Gov’t to mandate installing bypass networks at all telecommunication facilities

SEOUL, The government is pushing to require all communication facilities to install bypass networks in case of serious disruptions to its operations following a transceiver station fire at the nation's second-largest mobile carrier KT Corp., officials said Thursday.

A set of countermeasures to strengthen communication facility management was drafted by the Ministry of Science and ICT and finalized during a government meeting presided over by Prime Minister Lee Nak-yon earlier in the day, they said.

The blaze broke out at a KT base station in western Seoul on Nov. 25, paralyzing fixed-line, mobile and Internet networks for individuals and businesses that use the carrier. The incident caused services to be halted for a fifth of the Seoul area, as well as some parts of Gyeonggi Province, which surrounds the capital city.

Under the measures, the mobile carriers SK Telecom, KT and LG Uplus Inc. and Internet operators must install bypass communication circuits at all communication facilities, including ones with a D classification, they said.

The government currently divides communication facilities into four grades from A to D depending on the size of jurisdiction, with 835 facilities across the country falling into category D, covering the smallest area.

The ministry said it has conducted a nationwide inspection of a total of some 1,300 facilities, with nine facilities needing to be regraded.

Telecommunication facilities with a D classification have so far only been subject to self-examination by mobile carriers and Internet operators that run such places without being monitored by the government.

The measures would allow subscribers of a telecommunication operator to use communication networks of the others to send text messages and use phone calls, as well as to use Wi-Fi, in case of disasters such as fire and typhoon, officials said.

"The government is well aware that we have not fully prepared for communication disasters in light of the KT fire, although we have one of the world's best communication networks," ICT Vice Minster Win Won-ki said. "The government will strengthen monitoring to prevent the recurrence of such accidents."

The three mobile carriers and SK Broadband Co. inked an MOU earlier in the day to touch on the matter, officials stressed.

The ministry said a committee comprised of civilian experts will further discuss details regarding the technology to secure such backup bypass networks.

The ministry said facilities with grades between A and C will be examined every year, shortened from every two years, with D facilities to be scrutinized every other year, officials said.

The ministry said it also plans to mandate installing CCTVs and sprinklers in cable tunnels shorter than 500 meters in length.

Source: Yonhap news Agency

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