KDDI aims to restore service on Sunday after 40 million users affected

A man wearing a protective face mask takes a photo with his mobile phone at midday at Shibuya Crossing during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak in Tokyo, Japan March 31, 2020. REUTERS/Issei Kato

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TOKYO, July 3 (Reuters) – Japanese mobile operator KDDI Corp (9433.T) said it was aiming to restore services on Sunday evening after nationwide network issues affected nearly 40 million users, making calls and connecting online difficult for more than a day.

The disruption, which began around 1:35 a.m. Saturday (4:35 p.m. GMT Friday), affected a wide range of services, from weather data and parcel delivery to banking and transportation services that use KDDI networks.

“We deeply regret this as a telecom operator able to support critical infrastructure and provide stable services,” KDDI Chairman Makoto Takahashi said at a press conference on Sunday. He said it was the largest system failure in the carrier’s history.

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About 70% of services were recovered by mid-morning Sunday and KDDI expects to recover the rest by 5:30 p.m. (0830 GMT), Takahashi said.

But users were still experiencing issues as of 6 p.m. (0900 GMT) – more than 40 hours after the outage began – as the company checked network testing after repairs were completed while limiting stream volume, said KDDI said in a statement.

Up to 39.15 million users, including 260,000 enterprise customers, have been affected by the issue, which was triggered by a malfunction in voice call service delivery equipment, the company said, adding that the detailed causes were still under investigation.

Widespread network errors disrupted the transmission of weather data to the Meteorological Agency, ATMs at Ogaki Kyoritsu Bank, a regional bank in central Japan, and the communication system for package delivery at Yamato Holdings. (9064.T)according to their websites.

Toyota Motor Corp. (7203.T)Mazda Motor Corp. (7261.T) and Subaru Corp. (7270.T) also had problems with some functions of their internet-connected vehicle services, the Nikkei business daily said.

KDDI customers flooded Twitter with complaints, with one saying some taxi drivers were unable to accept credit cards or electronic payment due to the outage.

The government, keen to avoid public discontent a week before upper house elections on July 10, said it was investigating. Read more

The incident falls under the category of serious accidents under the telecommunications business law, Yasushi Kaneko, minister of interior and communications, said on Sunday, adding that the ministry would take necessary action after receiving an official report. from KDDI.

“We are taking the situation seriously, as emergency calls such as firefighters and emergency services to protect lives and property have been hampered at a time when the risk of pandemic and heatstroke is increasing and where a typhoon is approaching,” Kaneko told reporters.

The importance of mobile network stability was highlighted by unusually hot weather that sent elderly people to hospitals, and by a typhoon that headed for the southern Japanese island of Kyushu.

On Sunday, central Tokyo experienced its ninth straight day of temperatures above 35 degrees Celsius (95 degrees Fahrenheit), the longest streak since records began in 1875, according to the Kyodo News Agency.

Last October, KDDI rival NTT DoCoMo experienced a major network outage, affecting 12.9 million customers.

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Reporting by Yuka Obayashi; Additional reporting by Ritsuko Shimizu, Nobuhiro Kubo and David Dolan; Editing by Gerry Doyle and William Mallard

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