What Is the Impact of National Severity Level A Operator Incident?27.04.2020
On the Saturday 25th of April a leading Nordic teleopetor Telia had a highest severity level incident in their Finnish landline and mobile networks impacting also a range of other services. In a county of 5.5 million people, hundreds of thousands lost their Internet connectivity for several hours. Telia holds a market share of about a quarter of all landline and a third of mobile broadband subscriptions in Finland.
We reached out to one of our longest standing customer relationships, Receptum, to discuss what was the impact of such a network outage to their customers. Receptum is in a unique position to see the impact of such outages since they are dealing with connectivity in pharmacies across the country.
Tuomas Miskala, what is your responsibility at Receptum?
I'm responsible for all the telecommunications topics in the company.
Why is telecommunications important in your business?
Telecommunication is nowadays important in all business, but especially for our customers - the pharmacies. Medicines are prescribed electronically in Finland and if the connectivity to the centralized database of prescriptions is down, the pharmacy can not see what the doctor has ordered and thus is unable to sell the drugs – leading not only to missed business, but patients missing vital medication. Further, many of our customers are working with special arrangements and in very different conditions due to the Covid-19 pandemic. For example, the amount of work-from-home with VPN connections is higher than ever.
Can you give some background to our co-operation?
As a part of our system we also provide the connectivity from our system to the Internet and the prescription database and we have long partnered with Goodmill Systems to make sure we deliver on this to our customers. However, we do not build our own physical networks. Instead our customers can select the operators they want for their landline and mobile connectivity and by using Goodmill’s technology our system then always connects through the proper network that is up.
Does this mean that each of your customers is using a different mix of operators?
Yes. We try to avoid “putting all our eggs in one basket” and landline and mobile connectivity are and should always be from different service operators.
Is Telia a major provider of physical networks for your customers?
Yes, they are. I would say that the market share is likely around the same than what it is in Finland generally.
What did you and these customers of yours experience during Saturday when the outage hit?
For most, it was just a normal Saturday without any effects, and everything worked just as it should. Perhaps some business partner with more reliance on Telia was inaccessible.
Unfortunately, there were also customers, where it did not go quite as automatically as one would hope. In a normal network outage, the connection goes down and the automation detects this and can shift to the other connection. With some customers the problem manifested itself in the DNS services, meaning that an IP based detection showed the connection working, but the DNS couldn't resolve hosts. With these users, we needed to instruct them to take offline the faulty Telia WAN connection by simply pulling out a single cord from the router and have the automation instantly fix the connection.
I suppose that means there's still room for improvement for us both to also detect these DNS failures and extend the automation.
There's always room for more innovation.
Thank you for the interview on this short notice!
Goodmill System’s newest indoor model w24h-I is normally configured to utilize a landline from one operator in normal conditions and then seamlessly switch over to the mobile network from another operator if the landline fails. This shift is invisible to the user and their applications happening faster than a human can see from a video stream. Tuomas Miskala has been a member of the board for Goodmill Systems Ltd. for the past year.