Airtel Network Crashed, 8 million consumers became helpless

The failure of Bharti Airtel’s network on Thursday— it crashed for several hours without notice leaving 8 million consumers helpless — has raised two fundamental issues. One, whether the launch of 3G value-added services is adversely affecting primary services. And two, whether India’s largest telecom company has over-outsourced its equipment and management to vendors.
The company did not give any reason for failure of its network. “An unforeseen technical outage had affected services on some of our circuits,” a Bharti spokesperson said. “As a result some of Airtel Delhi mobile subscribers have experienced connectivity issues.”
But the issues could be larger. “The network architecture has become very complex after the launch of 3G services,” said a former CTO of a large telecom company. “That’s why calls drop frequently on networks that are offering 3G services.
The 3G network is overlayed over the existing 2G network and use the same core network.
“There are about 15 to 20 main switching centres (MSC) of Airtel in Delhi,” said the head of another telecom company. “Possibility is that due to some software glitch a few MSCs may have stopped working.
It could also be the firm’s aggressive outsourcing model. When a company outsources its entire technology to outside vendors, it does not have control over it in crisis situations.
While Bharti was the first company to outsource its network management and IT to vendors, other private operators have followed suit.
Citing that all its officials were busy in internal meetings, the company refused to comment.
“The problem is that the Indian companies do not have enough technical expertise to monitor the outsource activities,” said a former CMD of a government-owned telecom service provider.


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