Functionality of communications networks and services in 2015

Telecom companies are obligated to report any significant functionality incidents to FICORA. FICORA collects statistical data on other functionality incidents from telecom companies. During the past five years, the total number of significant functionality incidents in communications services has decreased. Even though the number of significant incidents was a little higher in 2015 than in 2014, the numbers were clearly lower than in 2011–2013.

In 2015, a total of 154 significant functionality incidents occurred

A total of 14 severe incidents affecting more than 100,000 users (severity rating A) occurred in 2015. There were 33 serious incidents affecting tens of thousands of users (B) and 107 significant incidents affecting thousands of users (C). More incidents occurred during the latter half than during the first half of the year. The aforementioned thresholds regarding the number of users are not only indicators of severity; they are merely simple examples. Detailed criteria have been set out in FICORA regulation 66.


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Figure: The number of significant functionality incidents in communications networks and services

Impact of significant functionality incidents on telecom services

Significant functionality incidents had a relatively similar impact on communications services in 2014 as they did in 2014. Service impact statistics of functionality incidents are presented as ratios because each incident may have an impact on several communications services.

The majority of all significant functionality incidents had an impact on telephone, data or messaging (SMS and MMS) services in mobile networks. These accounted for a little less than 63 per cent of all incidents. This proportion decreased slightly from 2014. However, the proportion of incidents in internet connections in the fixed network has increased since 2011. In 2015, they accounted for 18 per cent of all incidents. Less than 6 per cent of all incidents concerned telephone services in the fixed network.

Some 8 per cent of all functionality incidents that occurred in 2015 concerned mass communications services, i.e. television, radio and IPTV. Of all mass communications services, cable TV had the highest number of significant incidents. Email services were affected by less than 3 per cent of all incidents and wireless networks other than mobile networks were affected by 2 per cent. Examples of the latter case include services based on wireless local area networks offered by telecom companies.


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Figure: The relative number of the impact of significant functionality incidents in communications networks and services

Causes of significant functionality incidents

The number of causes of significant functionality incidents varies quite a lot from one year to the next. As each incident may have several root causes, statistics of the causes of incidents are presented as ratios.

The most frequent causes of significant incidents in 2015 were faults in the hardware or software of communications network devices. Incidents were caused by hardware malfunctions in 19 per cent of all cases, and by software malfunctions in 19 per cent of all cases. In recent years, the relative proportion of hardware malfunctions among all incidents has varied around 20 per cent. In 2013–2015, the proportion of software malfunctions was 18–19 per cent, whereas it was approximately 10 per cent in 2011–2012.

Power cuts caused incidents in 11 per cent of all significant cases. This proportion is unusually low compared with 2010–2014. This difference can largely be explained by the lack of extensive storm-induced power cuts in 2015 compared with previous years. Problems with equipment facilities, such as cooling malfunctions or vandalism, were the cause in 3 per cent of all significant incidents. Disruptions in power unit systems, such as the breakage of a supply system in an equipment facility, caused only 1 per cent of all significant incidents in 2015. In previous years, this corresponding proportion has been roughly 3–5 per cent. This difference can also be clearly seen in the absolute number of incidents.

Updates or modifications carried out in communications networks or services caused approximately 11 per cent of all significant functionality incidents. There has been a downward trend, even though there has been some annual variation. Cable breaks also caused 11 per cent of all incidents in 2015. This is nearly double the amount of 2014, but it is close to the long-term average. In 2015, factors other than those stated above caused 10 per cent of all significant incidents. Furthermore, the cause was unknown in 14 per cent of all cases.


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Figure: The relative number of the causes of significant functionality incidents in communications networks and services

The total number of incidents in communications networks has remained unchanged in recent years

In addition to the aforementioned significant functionality incidents reported to FICORA, telecom companies are continuously investigating a number of other functionality problems. In 2015, telecom companies reported a total of 316,090 functionality incidents to FICORA in their statistics. This figure includes the 154 significant functionality incidents stated above. The number of all functionality incidents has remained at roughly the same level in recent years.

This article is a part of FICORA's Communications Sector Review 1/2016.

Key words: Information security , Internet , Articles , Reviews , Statistics

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