Public purse to pick up tab for fibre network

| 21/03/2018 | 42 Comments

Cayman News Service(CNS): Public cash will be used to roll out the missing fibre network across the Cayman Islands after the cable companies operating on island failed to meet their obligations. Premier Alden McLaughlin told the Legislative Assembly that government would fund the much-needed network and claw back the money from the various communication companies that will use it. Answering a parliamentary question on Friday about the failure of local firms to properly meet their obligations regarding free-to-air (FTA) services and providing local content, McLaughlin, who has responsibility for the utilities regulator, outlined a number of problems for cable TV companies on how they can supply FTA services with the end of the analogue system.

He said it was “unwise and futile” to try to enforce the free-to-air issue rather than concentrate on the provision of local content and how the costs could be covered.

The exchange about the provision of free television was with the member for Bodden Town West, Chris Saunders, who asked the original question as he was also concerned about whether or not the local TV providers would be showing the World Cup matches this summer.

But in a follow-up question the Opposition Leader Ezzard Miller pointed to the poor quality of service in the eastern districts that have no fibre network, and it was then the premier revealed government’s plan to build the national fibre network in the face of the cable and telecom companies’ failings.

“Although all the competitive telecom providers agreed to licence conditions that committed them to deploy fibre across the island, all have since failed to meet this obligation,” McLaughlin said, adding that all of the providers have been told by OfReg and a public announcement was made in a consultation document published earlier this month. He said this latest consultation was about defining the term ‘broadband’ and make the focus on the provision of broadband across the islands by all of the firms.

“OfReg will then employ a universal service fund to construct a separate fibre optic network serving the eastern districts and… make the telecoms pay for it. Licensees will then have no excuse to meet the new broadband delivery target,” he said. “All these years we keep struggling, unsuccessfully, to get them to deploy the fibre that they have agreed to, so we are going to abandon that approach and we are going to build the fibre network and we are going to charge the licensees for it.”

However, Miller raised his concerns that the people in the eastern districts would end up paying for it, pointing out that there is a regulatory authority who oversees the licences that the companies signed knowing what their obligations are. He asked why, when they had not complied, they were still allowed to operate. The premier said that was because having some TV was better than no TV.

Miller pressed the premier on why it was that the fibre network had been advanced to Health City Cayman Islands but not to his constituents, which the premier said was another example of the fact that the “market had failed” and that government had to pick up the slack.

See the full exchange of questions and answers on CIGTV below:

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Category: Business, ICT

Comments (42)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    Alden helping out his tv buddies. Disgusting!

  2. Anonymous says:

    If we (the government) will have to pay or subsidize any private venture then we should not be forced to pay prices to allow these companies to have a guaranteed profit like we allowed happen with CUC.

    Hope the owners aren’t looking to repeat CUC’s deal and hold over customers! Where are the MLAs seeking consumer protection and fairness written into these deals?

  3. Anonymous says:

    sitting here wondering which lodge man or group of men will gain millions by getting contract?

  4. Anonymous says:

    I’m not sure this was the best approach, however, Cayman needs a first class infrastructure, the telecoms providers who should have done this have shirked their responsibility and failed on their commitments, the regulator has no teeth or tools to force them to provide the upgrades so Government is left with what? They could increase telecoms fees to punish the failing companies, but chances are these will be passed on to the consumer, they could give OfReg some teeth to ensure compliance, but that will take a long time…

  5. Anonymous says:

    In developing countries in Africa and Asia for example, people’s lives are being transformed by the availability of wifi and digital communications technologies – these are people living in poverty! what could having better access do for cayman? if the telcoms aren’t installing the networks that they said they were going to, why not have a central system that they all contribute to pay towards, rather than having each one set up its own? it makes sense to me and if that gives us better internet, then i am all for it

  6. Anonymous says:

    It is amazing that this government continues to ignore public consultation periods and jumps the gun in every instance to make these decrees. The consultation period doesn’t end until April 18 at 5pm, for Pete’s sakes. Please click on the link and send all of these comments to:

    The rate-payers of Western Grand Cayman should not be effectively “fined” to subsidize infrastructure that may not have commercial need in the Eastern Districts. CIG have had years to penalize local telecoms and did nothing. Every service provider on the list should be fined for missing their infrastructure roll-out, and the rate-payers left out of it.

    Also, since when do Logic and Lime share Fibre? None of this makes sense…

    • OfReg says:

      You’re right – the Broadband Consultation is still in progress – please send us your input!

      Regarding the proposed Universal Service Network (USN); why would anyone but the offending telcos pay for it? OfReg never suggested the “public purse” would pay for the USN. Nor did the Premier. Here’s an idea – if the telco licensees who have an obligation to build the network fail to do so, then they can either pay fines$$$ or contribute to the USN. Either way, they pay. Not the public. Just a thought…

  7. West bay Premier says:

    Why does the Government have to be involved and paying for services that public Companies who are providing the public services ? Why can’t the Government just make Laws that to provide and get a license to operate, the Company must meet these standards and provide it Island wide in a agreement to operate in CI. But it’s strange/questionable that fiber optic services can go all the way to Health City without Government paying for it , but to go to some Citizens now they have to get involved and use Taxpayers money to fix it for them .

    But Government are going to make Companies pay for it in their license . So that just means that will be pasted on to the consumer, so then he’s making the Taxpayers pay again .
    Tell Alden that if you are paying for television service you expect the best , not half best. Iam sure he has the best and not paying as you and I.

    • Anonymous says:

      so how does this work? shut the licensee down? what happens to those customers who are now without service/ they go to another provider? end up with a monopoly again? which provider do they go to if none of the licensees have fulfilled their obligations?

      • Anonymous says:

        Pick one at random, pull their licence. Give them, and the others six months to get organised or you pull the next licence. High-speed cell towers will be popping up like pine trees. (‘best’ way to get high-speed coverage to outer districts.)

  8. Anonymous says:

    Alden would do well to insist on a review of the predatory pricing in play on tv/internet/phone in Cayman…its borderline criminal what we’re being charged…if companies cannot make it work, don’t invest….compared to other regions, we’re being bludgeoned into poverty

    • West bay Premier says:

      Anonymous 9:45 am , but he think and believe that by letting them take advantage of everyone is prosperity , not poverty.
      I think it time to change all their hats and them .

  9. Anonymous says:

    If the provider agreed as part of their licensing agreement hold them to it! If they do not comply pull their license. Simple fix. But that takes a government that has balls.

    • Anonymous says:

      Yup. Pick one at random, pull licence. Tell others you’ll see them in six months. (And the pulled company they can reapply in six months.) There’ll be cell towers sprouting like pine trees within six weeks. (Cell is the ‘best’ way to get high speed coverage to people outside population dense areas but who are still not geographically remote.)

  10. Jar Jar Binks says:

    More reckless spending of public monies… smh

  11. Anonymous says:

    What is the government and regulator doing about GIS LA proceedings only available on the Logic channel? Not everyone has internet for YouTube replay.There is no free over the air service.
    So many consultants being hired for everything at the regulator and other countries manage to get it done quickly.

    • Anonymous says:

      Not OffReg’s fault. That CIG-TV was not free-over-air was noted as a mistake when it was conceptualized by a politician and a consultant.

    • OfReg says:

      Actually, most homes in Cayman DO have Internet access. In fact, Cayman has the highest penetration of internet services per capita of any country in the region.

      The real question is; how many of us have a VHF / UHF antenna on our TV or rooftop to receive the over-the-air TV signals? Far fewer than those who have Internet!

  12. University educated - 20 years in telecoms says:

    C&W, C3, and Logic all have fiberoptic cables on the CUC pole outside my house. I have service with only one of them.

    In the areas where there is no fiber, it’s because none of the companies feel that there is sufficient demand for them to get a reasonable return on their investment in that particular area before the fiber becomes obsolete or at least superfluous to their requirements.

    In the early days fiber offered speeds that couldn’t be provided on copper. Today, advances in technology allows for incredible speeds over copper. However, wireless is the new player in the market especially with the new 5G releases already hitting the market.

    It makes no sense for any telecoms company to commit to installing miles of fibreoptic cable on poles, for which they have to pay CUC monthly fees, just to get into every home to provider high-speed service when they can simply hand a box over the counter to a customer and say “Take this home and plug it in anywhere”.

    When OfReg installs their fiberoptic network in the Eastern Districts, I hope every customer gets a free fax machine to encourage them to sign up.

    • Anonymous says:

      Except that the telcoms companies committed to expanding the network and haven’t, so unless the options mentioned are going to be rolled out instead of fibre they will just wash their hands of their responsibilities. I think it was probably known that the Eastern districts weren’t going to be commercially viable, but that was the cost of doing business, and presumably worth it, else they wouldn’t have signed the deal…unless they knew they could just ignore them.

    • Anonymous says:

      Fibre cables that will come down with the poles in a hurricane

  13. Anonymous says:

    …… Right….. I’ll give it a few years. As it’s going to be entertaining to watch them set themselves up for “failure”

  14. Anonymous says:

    The devil is in the details and hopefully this does not become a white elephant like Boatswains Beach. It could go either way. The past performance of the regulator being unable to regulate doesn’t inspire confidence in their ability to actually become another telco provider.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I wonder if as a small building contractor I could sign a contract to build a home, go 3/4 way then say to the owner “hey, some home is better than no home” the utter rubbish that comes out politicians.

  16. Boggy Sound man says:

    Thank you for your true leadership Honorable Premier. Getting more and more done for us all to make Cayman Great again. As for you who do not wish to chip in to improve our country, why not catch one of the daily flights and leave here?

  17. Anonymous says:

    Can we just stop for a second to reflect on how unprofessional Alden is and his government?

  18. Anonymous says:

    Who gets the installation contract is what we need to know.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Utter bullshit from both sides. The government has a mandate from their controllers to get the entire nation on the internet in preparation for the upcoming digital global currency. So sad that people are so blind.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are proof that tinfoil hats are a good investment

      • Anonymous says:

        I’ll take that as a compliment, although I do not possess a tinfoil hat. It would turn my head into a Faraday cage.
        Perhaps you should buy shares in aluminum/aluminium?

    • Anonymous says:

      Do you have any independently verified data that that you can provide about the upcoming digital global currency?

    • Anonymous says:

      What did you get tired of researching who shot JFK? Conspiracy around every corner. ??

  20. Anonymous says:

    this is how it feels to be an expat everyday……..forced to pay for the non contribution of others….

    • Anonymous says:

      Go back to your country where they don’t do it then. We don’t go to your country and tell you how to do things.

      • Anonymous says:

        nope..i’ll stay and continue to try and improve the place…btw you need some fresh blood….

        • Anonymous says:

          You are a very rude person.
          I guarantee that you would not go to Pakistan and say the same.
          In fact, you are not a rude person, I would qualify you as a bully.

          Leave the Caymanian people alone. I came here many years ago and they gave me status. I respect that. You are not nice.

  21. Anonymous says:

    This is a good move by the government but it will all be for nothing if the government does not adequately charge the telecommunications companies for access to the network.

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