Chairman of the Knesset Economics Committee MK Eitan Cabel intends to demand that cellphone service firm Pelephone compensate the customers who were without service for as much as 72 hours, after the network for 2.6 million customers of the firm and of Rami Levy Communications – which relies on Pelephone’s backbone for service – went down on Monday morning.
“I wonder what Pelephone would do if an ordinary person would do something to mess up the company’s schedule and activities as Pelephone did to so many with the outage,” said Cabel. As of Tuesday night, there were still some customers without service, the company admitted. A Pelephone spokesperson said that the company realized that it was “inevitable” that they would have to pay compensation.
The loss of service had been due to a fire in an electrical installation at one of the companies service substations in Petach Tikvah. The fire lasted only a few minutes and was quickly put out – but it was big enough to damage sensitive equipment that prevented the substation from forwarding calls on the network, basically downing the entire network for most of the day. Customers were unable to make or receive calls or text messages most of Monday and Tuesday, in many cases.
According to legal precedents and user agreements, the company is required to compensate customers for lost service only if the outage was due to “intentional actions,” such as in the case of a hacker attack, or when the damage to customers was “extensive.” The Israel Consumer Council said in a statement that it was too early to tell if Monday’s outage fit either of those criteria. The Communications Ministry is the official body to undertake an investigation and make that decision, the Council said.
The Ministry said in a statement that it had dispatched engineers to size up the extent of the outage, and that it was working together with company officials to determine the cause and implications of the outage. “After the investigation we will be in a better position to know the background of the incident and its results,” the statement said.
Cabel said that he intended to discuss exactly what Pelephone needed to do with officials of the Communications Ministry. “I will demand a thorough investigation on this matter and especially demand to know how the company intends to prevent a repeat of this.