Parliamentary Estate: Telephone Systems

House of Commons Commission written question – answered at on 15 May 2024.

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Photo of John Spellar John Spellar Labour, Warley

To ask the hon. Member for Broxbourne, representing the House of Commons Commission, for what reason the Polycom phone system malfunctioned on 9 May 2024.

Photo of Charles Walker Charles Walker Chair, Administration Committee, Chair, Administration Committee

I am sorry that the right hon. Member and all colleagues continue to experience inconvenience in telephony services which are currently below standard. The latest issue with handsets underlines the need for the solution which the Parliamentary Digital Service is implementing later this year.

Polycom devices need to communicate with an external supplier to register the device and make/receive calls. Each device communicates with one of two external servers. One of the servers experienced issues on Thursday 9 May and any device that attempted to connect to this server was impacted by the outage. Polycom phones communicating with the working server did not experience an outage.

The first report the Digital Service received of handsets not working was at 12.13pm on Thursday 9 May. The team declared a major incident shortly afterwards and service was restored at 9.46am on 10 May.

The Voice Programme is upgrading and replacing the existing telephony infrastructure and when implemented, handsets will have 99.999% reliability of connecting.

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