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KT confirms routing errors caused network disruption

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Telecom firm to compensate for damage

By Kim Bo-eun

Routing errors by KT employees caused the company's nationwide network services disruption a day earlier, the telecommunications firm said Tuesday, pledging to compensate customers for any losses caused by the incident.

"We confirmed that the disruption was caused by errors in designating network routes, which took place while switching to the latest equipment to upgrade services," said a statement issued by KT CEO Ku Hyeon-mo.

"We will take this as an opportunity to thoroughly examine the entirety of our wired and wireless networks. We will also swiftly come up with a compensation plan."

A KT official said details of the compensation plan will be decided after looking into the damage caused. KT's contracts state the company is required to provide compensation when subscribers of mobile phone plans, high-speed internet and IPTV are denied access to services for at least three consecutive hours.

KT's internet network error disabled both wired and wireless services from around 11:20 a.m. to noon, leaving some service users unable to make calls. Most services were back by noon, but some disruptions lasted longer.

Service disruptions impacted operations at restaurants, where card payments were disabled, and orders via ordering platforms failed to be registered. Taxi drivers experienced disruptions in navigation services and incoming calls.

Hospitals experienced delays in checking patients' personal records. The education ministry said a total of 7,742 schools, kindergartens and other institutions nationwide experienced disruptions. Schools became exposed to greater disruptions, as classes have been held online amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Classes were canceled and some schools had to postpone exams.

A medical center in the southwestern city of Gwangju affected by KT's network disruption is crowded with people seeking health checkups and flu shots, Monday. Yonhap
A medical center in the southwestern city of Gwangju affected by KT's network disruption is crowded with people seeking health checkups and flu shots, Monday. Yonhap

Corporations and government institutions were also affected as online meetings were canceled. Retail investors also complained that they were unable to trade shares due to the disruption, and that this resulted in losses.

In the first few hours, KT initially stated that its network had been hit by a cyberattack, but said later the disruption was caused by a "routing error." Police were dispatched to KT's headquarters to look into the possibility of the former, but concluded internal errors caused the disruption.

Routing refers to the designation of network routes for data to reach a service subscriber, and the disruption is seen to have occurred due to errors in designation, which led to the concentration of traffic on certain routes, leading to overloads.

Officials of the Ministry of Science and ICT visited KT's network control center in Gwacheon, south of Seoul, on Tuesday, to inspect the site.

This is not the first time a KT network disruption has occurred. A major disruption took place in November 2018, due to a fire at a KT branch in western Seoul. At the time, the company provided discounts for mobile phone services for 1.1 million subscribers for up to six months and paid 12,000 small business owners a total of 7 billion won in compensation. Owners of restaurants, cafes and convenience stores saw damage from the network disruption as card payments were disabled. KT at the time estimated losses to amount to 47 billion won.

The latest disruption is projected to see greater losses than the 2018 case, given the latter affected only parts of Seoul and the metropolitan area, whereas Monday's disruption occurred nationwide.

Game companies such as NCSOFT, meanwhile, presented their own compensation plan for users who experienced disruptions in playing their games. Compensation is being provided in the form of in-game items.

KT's union stated Monday: "This disruption occurred because the company failed to carry out its basic role as a telecom services provider and focused instead on profitable businesses."


Kim Bo-eun bkim@koreatimes.co.kr


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