Millions of Internet users in Vietnam frustrated by the snail-paced connection brought about by a snapped submarine cable system will not be recompensed, as the service providers are under no obligation to cover for incidents caused by force majeure, a leading telecom said Wednesday.
The cutoff in the AAG (Asia Gateway Pacific) cable system was an unexpected, unavoidable incident, so no compensation is required, Bui Quoc Viet, head of the public relations center under VNPT, told Tuoi Tre (Youth) newspaper.
State-run telecom giant VNPT, fully known as the Vietnam Posts and Telecommunications Group, is the Internet service provider that has suffered the most from the cable rupture, which occurred on January 5 and will not be fully repaired until late next week.
The incident is vexing Internet users in Vietnam with connectivity getting slow or disrupted whenever they utilize services hosted overseas, even those as simple as sending emails.
Besides AAG, VNPT also has other land-based and submarine cable systems with much larger traffic capacity, according to the media person.
“Shortly after the AAG cable was ruptured, VNPT directed part of its Internet traffic to other cable systems to ensure service quality,” Viet said.
Viet added that the state-run telco is “actively working” with the AAG operator on the repair and the cut would be fixed in “the next few days.”
The AAG operator said last week that Internet traffic will return to 100 percent normal on January 23, with repairs set to begin on Thursday.
Lam Quoc Cuong, director of VNPT International, said whether customers could be compensated depends on the terms of service stated in their contracts with the Internet service providers.
“As agreed upon in the contract, this is a kind of incident caused by outside factors such as natural disasters rather than by the service provider, so there is no compensation,” he said.
Ngo Bach Phong, chairman of the Ho Chi Minh City Customer Protection Association, said even when the Internet service providers deemed the incident force majeure, they should not ignore the obvious damage it has inflicted on society.
“However, we do not have any mechanism on compensation for such an incident,” he said, adding the Vietnam Competition Authority should take action to protect consumers.
The Internet service providers, meanwhile, should try to recompense their customers in the event that their services are disrupted, even when there are no complaints or requests for compensation.
“It’s their responsibility,” he said.
“One suggestion is that the service providers waive or slashfees for customers during the time of poor service.”