S M Ong: I found out I had no Internet... on the Internet
Our humour columnist gives his take on the Singtel broadband service disruption
I watched TV on Saturday evening.
This could mean only one of two things.
Saturday was National Day and the parade was on.
Or the Internet was down.
Despite that one neighbour who is still displaying the Singapore flag, I believe we're way past Aug 9.
Which means the reason I turned on my 42-inch Samsung for the first time in months was the Internet. Or rather, the lack of it.
When I first lost the connection on Saturday morning, I thought something was wrong with my computer.
So I turned my computer off and on because that's what they always tell you to do when you call tech support.
When that didn't work, I turned my router off and on.
I took advantage of the waiver and used my mobile data on Saturday like there was no tomorrow.
When that didn't work, I checked Twitter on my phone using mobile data.
That was when I found out that the Singtel fibre broadband was down.
To double-confirm, I went to the Singtel Facebook page, which said: "Some customers may be experiencing difficulties accessing their fibre broadband services. Our engineers are working to resolve the problem. Thank you for your patience."
So the only way to find out that you have no Internet is on the Internet.
As one of the 36,000 comments on the Singtel Facebook post pointed out: "It is baffling how customers were not informed through an SMS and/or an automated call that Singtel was experiencing a massive outage.
"This outage is even more frustrating for those customers who had no idea that an outage was existent, and were frantically trying all means and ways to solve their Internet issues - only to find out through Facebook (since when did social media become the main channel of communication?) that an outage had happened."
Hey, that was what happened to me.
If I had known it was a problem with the broadband itself, I wouldn't have wasted my time turning my devices off and on like a chump.
To make up for the outage, Singtel advised "affected customers who are also Singtel postpaid mobile subscribers to use their Singtel mobile broadband in the meantime", and it would waive the mobile data charges for Saturday.
This created another uproar as not all Singtel broadband customers are Singtel mobile customers.
One Facebook commenter advised: "For non-Singtel mobile subscribers, forget about asking for data waiver. They'll say you die not my problem. I'm using StarHub. So I know I'm screwed. But making noise/spamming isn't gonna rectify an already known problem."
Since I am a Singtel mobile subscriber, I took advantage of the waiver and used my mobile data on Saturday like there was no tomorrow.
And then I got this SMS from Singtel: "You have used 90% of your monthly data bundle… Additional data charges apply if you exceed your data bundle."
Huh? But I thought charges would be waived.
I wasn't the only one worried about this. Someone tweeted: "I can't seem to trust Singtel saying free data today cos the counter keeps increasing. #trustissues"
With the limited Net access, you would think that people would have better things to do online than, say, changing news headlines.
But on Saturday, The Straits Times (ST) alerted its readers to a Facebook post where "an ST article with the headline 'President Tan conveys best wishes to Thailand's new King, invites him to visit Singapore' had been modified".
It added that it viewed "this act of mischief seriously and will not hesitate to take action against those involved".
It didn't say how the headline was modified. So I wasted precious data to find out that someone had added the words "to eat KFC" at the end of the headline.
Apparently, some people actually believed the amended headline was written by ST.
So far, KFC has not commented on this. Maybe it couldn't because it uses Singtel fibre broadband.
Singtel said its fibre broadband services were fully restored as of 8.25am yesterday.
I wouldn't be surprised if the problem was found to be caused by a rogue train.
The telco also offered its broadband subscribers a 10 per cent discount for this month and will waive local mobile data charges for both Saturday and yesterday for its post-paid mobile customers.
But it can't give me back my Saturday evening which I wasted on watching Mirror Mirror starring Julia Roberts on Channel 5.
That's two hours of my life gone forever.
It could've been worse. Someone tweeted: "I'm so bored I've to read a book. Thank you #Singtel"
A book! Not even a Kindle.
What are we? Savages?
Next thing you know, we could be talking to each other face to face.
Thank you #Singtel.