StarHub: No lead seals in exchanges

StarHub: No lead seals in exchanges

SINAGPORE- Starhub has said its Internet exchanges do not use lead-based sealants of the type that caught fire in a Bukit Panjang exchange owned by SingTel.

The sealant, used to keep water and gas out of underground cable rooms, was called "an unnecessary fire risk" by a SingTel board committee investigating October's fire which took down phone, broadband, TV and banking services in many parts of the island for up to three days. The committee's report found it was likely that the blaze was caused by a hotter than permitted blowtorch, which had been used to loosen the sealant for maintenance.

Ms Ong Bee Lian, StarHub's vice-president of integrated network engineering, said her telco uses a multi-cable transit system - "the latest technology" - instead of lead seals. The compression-based system is typically made of foam rubber and putty that wedge cables tightly in place. It means removing or adding cables is easier and no heat is needed.

StarHub built its first exchange centre in 2000. M1 does not have any Internet exchanges.

Ms Ong said that any hot work at StarHub exchanges is for minor welding, such as for air-conditioner piping or raised floors. This requires permits and network engineers must inspect and approve all equipment before contractors start work.

Network engineers must also be on site to monitor the process for fire hazards and automatic fire-suppression systems are reactivated immediately after the works are completed, Ms Ong added.

A spokesman for M1 said its buildings housing network equipment use fire detection and suppression systems such as water sprinklers. Any work by third parties is supervised by M1 staff, he said.

Mr Clement Goh, Singapore managing director of data centre firm Equinix, told The Straits Times that his company does not have its own Internet exchange buildings and that no work in its data centres involves open flames.

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