Hundreds of businesses and internet subscribers were left stranded with limited data, voice and IP services for six hours yesterday after telecoms provider Melita developed technical difficulties.
Later in the afternoon, Melita explained that following an outage that developed at around 8.30 am, the company identified that the fault arose from WIND’s network in Italy.
Shedding more light onto the incident, the Malta Communications Authority (MCA) said that the fault experienced by Melita yesterday was the result of a software failure “which not only effected operative equipment but also redundant equipment intended to come into operation in the event of equipment failure.”
Melita Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Stephen Wright later apologised to all the company’s subscribers for the inconveniences caused.
“Our technical teams identified and resolved the problem as fast as they could however, the problem was not entirely within our control and therefore we required support from our international connectivity providers WIND, in Italy,” he said.
He also announced that Melita would be offering “unlimited internet downloads free of charge for a whole month to make up for the stoppage. “This is the first time that a local communications provider is offering compensation for a technical outage,” the Melita CEO said.
As soon as the fault developed, Melita subscribers could not access sites hosted overseas while locally-hosted websites and mail servers were available although at slower speeds.
While local telephony was not interrupted, international telephony was disrupted.
Three-way blame game
In a separate company statement, Melita yesterday complained that its proposals for redundancy agreements presented to both GO and Vodafone earlier this year were “delayed by both operators”.
A GO spokesperson denied that the telecoms company had delayed Melita’s request for a redundancy agreement earlier this year.
“It was only recently, on 15 June 2009, that GO received a formal request by Melita to enter into a redundancy agreement for the provision of international connectivity, and one meeting was held between both parties since then,” the GO spokesperson told Business Today.
The company spokesperson explained that “as soon as GO was aware of Melita’s outage, its representatives immediately contacted Melita to offer international connectivity over GO’s infrastructure”.
GO said it was capable to provide such assistance “in view of the fact that GO is the only communications provider in Malta to own and operate two independent submarine cable links to mainland Europe, in addition to its redundancy agreement with Vodafone.”
A Vodafone Malta spokesperson also denied Melita’s claims in this respect. “In fact, Vodafone provided Melita with different options for redundancy and contacted them numerous times without receiving any feedback,” she told Business Today.
“It was only on 15 June 2009 that Vodafone received a formal request for redundancy from Melita in order to comply with the MCA’s requirements,” she said.
Vodafone Malta said it “proceeded immediately” by initiating negotiations. These discussions “are still ongoing”.
“At no time during this fault; did Melita contact Vodafone to obtain international connectivity over Vodafone’s cable,” she said.
Both GO and Vodafone Malta said they were unaffected by Melita’s six-hour disruption of its data connectivity services.