Flow blames CUC for loss of service in BT

| 17/02/2021 | 41 Comments
Cayman News Service
CUC staff at work (file photo)

(CNS): Around 40 Flow customers in Bodden Town lost service after CUC’s IT company, DataLink, made cuts to Flow’s fiber and copper network at the weekend. According to a release from Flow, CUC and its subsidiary company cut the links due to safety concerns about the network but chose to remove the communications cables instead of addressing those concerns. The utilities regulator, OfReg, said it “summoned” CUC/DataLink to a meeting on Monday to sort out the situation.

Flow stated in a release that it was in the process of modernising Bodden Town’s copper plant network to a high-speed fiber network to bring its customers faster broadband. And so in July last year the company asked CUC for the “necessary permits for the placement of its fiber on CUC’s poles”. However, it appears that CUC was very slow in responding and so Flow began its upgrades anyway.

“As a result of the delays from CUC, and the increasing demands from customers for greater broadband speeds, accelerated due to COVID-19, Flow decided to proceed with its fiber roll out to address ongoing service concerns from the communities in the area,” the company said in its release. 

“Both CUC and DataLink raised issues concerning the safety of the state of their current network. Unfortunately, rather than address those concerns, DataLink took the action to remove Flow’s fiber cables from the poles in 14 sites which resulted in the service disruptions to customers” Flow said. 

It appears as it Flow complained to OfReg and the regulator “summoned” CUC and DataLink to a meeting on Monday, 15 February.

OfReg stated, “The meeting resulted in the parties agreeing to immediately begin taking the necessary steps to address the outstanding safety issues and to take proper and timely actions to restore cables and connections to allow services to affected customers, to be restored.”

OfReg CEO Malike Cummings said that the regulator had “an obligation to protect the interest of consumers and is gravely concerned by the negative impact on consumers who experienced loss of services, due to no fault of their own”.

The regulator issued a reminder to “licencees in all sectors of their obligations to consumers, to other licensees and the Cayman Islands as whole, and expects every effort and option is exhausted to resolve problems expeditiously in accordance with the laws and established standards”.

Flow said they were “working closely with CUC to safely repair and reconnect our affected customers as well as working toward a timely resolution of this issue in order for us to bring our high speed fiber network to the rest of the Cayman Islands”.  

But the issue is a broad problem that OfReg has been wrestling with since its inception. CUC’s company, DataLink, which owns all of the poles, has been unable to come to any permanent satisfactory commercial agreement with the telecommunications companies that use them and who accuse the company of massively overcharging.

Past efforts by OfReg to enforce regulations surrounding DataLink and its dispute with the telecom companies has not ended well. Last year the former ICT director of OfReg, Alee Fa’amoe, told the PAC that DataLink took the regulator to court after it tried to make the company meet its regulatory obligations, and won.

“They spent three times more on lawyers than us and we lost,” Fa’amoe said.

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Category: Business, utilities

Comments (41)

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  1. Cleft o maniacs agency says:

    This is living proof that OfReg is a bunch of foolishness and should be shut down immediately. Doing absolutely nothing about anything now they rush in about mediation if they were up on what has been happening this could have been avoided. Too busy driving SUV’s and collecting big salaries big lunches. As for the Fuel scam that has been going on forever someone needs locking up in that corruption scandal .

  2. Anonymous says:

    So gas has jumped up because of the very recent tx freeze. When gas prices dropped in the us because of covid our prices never fell. I thought they said it was because we already bought the gas so it won’t reflect for a while. So what’s the excuse now? All these companies that rely on coal and oil must be used as a backup. Even the Texans are understanding that now.

  3. Andrew says:

    Get a 5G network setup ASAP and avoid the poles entirely!

  4. Anonymous says:

    Surely the solution for an island this size is to separate out the T&D(the grid) from generation and form a separate company, with CIG a shareholder and publicly float shares with a mix of directors. The policies would be set for the grid separately and be independent therefore of the conflicts that presently exist with CUC as the sole owner and provider.

  5. Rick says:

    Joint use pole agreements are not simple. Think about this. If you have a car and it costs you $0.75CI per mile to drive it and you are alone in the car you pay all the costs. If someone wants to ride with you every day of the year, 24 hours a day, you have the right to ask them to help pay the costs of your investment in the car, your time, your insurance, your license fees, etc. The question is “what is reasonable”.

    Check out the attached document to see how complicated this can be. https://www.fcc.gov/sites/default/files/ad-hoc-commitee-survey-04242018.pdf

    Also, check the joint use agreement as cited above. Why reinvent the wheel?

    FPL has pole attachment agreements with all other users of their poles just as other companies charge FPL for the use of their poles.

    • Anonymous says:

      Why do they need to charge anything? The poles are on private property or Government property, ever get paid for the use of your land? We pay for the poles in CUC bills, then we pay the telecoms costs for nailing a line to the same poles…seems like getting charged 3 times for the same thing! Maybe if affixing a cable to the pole somehow wore it out quicker then they should pay, but the reality is just as we give over the use of our land for nothing maybe CUC should do the same with the poles.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Off the subject a bit, but is anyone following on what is happening in Texas? Not only State wasn’t prepared, but residents seem to lost survival skills. If they ever had them, of course.

    There are always unforeseen, once in a life time events. Are people in Cayman know how to survive without electricity, water and may be food?

    May be someone should start teaching how to survive? Start with children.

    • Anonymous says:

      Don’t forget that Texan houses are lumber-framed and cheap energy means lower incentives to install insulation.

    • SSM345 says:

      11:09, look up Hurricane Ivan; we are well versed in surviving catastrophic events.

    • Anonymous says:

      Its always good to be concerned. I’d say that after Ivan, being that we live on an island, and with the many hurricane alerts we get annually, most people in Cayman are pretty good at surviving.
      Often its the new expats (who’ve not gone through a hurricane alert) who are not willing to listen and prepare.

    • Anonymous says:

      Im not eating my children

  7. Anonymous says:

    Not even adults can play nice in the Cayman sandbox.
    Get a grip Flow and CUC. We need fiber out East, get on it.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Govt dhould natil?aluse Daralk and thenlease to the relecoms and CUC.

    • Anonymous says:

      White Rum?

    • Anonymous says:

      Why would CNS even bother to post this untranslated?

    • Anonymous says:

      No need to nationalise Datalink. Government needs to (re)write better regulations so that OffReg can enforce expectations of fair dealing on all utilities, including Datalink (and the telecoms). (And so OffReg are penalised for not enforcing said regulations to the letter.)

  9. Anonymous says:

    This is more of the same! Flow up against real competition and looking for someone else to blame.

    CUC owns the poles. That is a fact. Flow and anybody else must abide by whatever agreements are in place with the owner of the poles. Simple!

    How can such a fine company of some years ago end up being a heap of crap like it is now? Shameful!

    • Anonymous says:

      You do know you are volunteering to pay more for your telecoms right? If no-one can agree a price with Datalink to use the poles then they may be charging too much, if the telecoms companies said ‘fine’ to whatever DataLink want to charge we, the consumer, would end up paying that bill. DataLink is owned by CUC, and as another monopoly can surely be trusted, right! Why are they charging anyway, its not like the telecoms are asking for new poles, just attaching a few cables to poles that are in place!

      • Anonymous says:

        So, if and when we lose poles through car accidents, hurricanes etc, CUC alone should carry the costs? Fair enough it’s their asset. Flow hasn’t put a penny into buying or maintaining, repairing or replacing poles but they should just pay a nominal sum to use them? And that’s fair how? And since CUC says they can’t just use their assets for free and Flow wants to use them for nominal sum, in the meanwhile Flow hooks up illegally and uses the poles for free! What am I missing?

        • Anonymous says:

          You are actually missing quite a lot! Maybe before you speak to things you are absolutely incorrect about, do some research so that you don’t spout stuff that is totally incorrect.

    • SSM345 says:

      Don’t we own the poles, because we have definitely paid for them just like everything else CUC in Cayman…..?

      Pretty sure there’s a charge covering the poles on our bills just like when we pay them to transport fuel from JP terminal; which does not cost them anything so not sure what they are trying to recoup…..

      • Anonymous says:

        Do we say the same about Fosters, AL Thompsons etc etc? They didn’t get money out of thin air to build their various bits of infrastructure, they too built it from money they collect from their customers

  10. Anonymous says:

    Flow should not have taken it upon itself to install any equipment on the CUC poles if CUC had not provided the required approvals . The correct approach would have been for Flow to take up the matter with the regulator and possibly to take legal action if they felt that CUC was in breach of any laws or contracts. I am also keen to get access to the fiber technology. That said, when dealing with any part of the transmission and distribution of high voltage electricity safety has to always come first.

    CUC has been an obstacle in the process of providing timely telecommunications services and the regulator needs to take steps to put an end to their obstructive behavior.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Or at least a pole dancing agreement

  12. Anonymous says:

    I’m tired of waiting for the 21st century to arrive here. I will gladly pay for Starlink from SpacEx. Warning to the controllers, manipulators and regulators. Technology will eat your lunch. The sheep will finally get an honest shepherd. Warning! Your days are numbered.

    • Anonymous says:

      You are so right. Back in March 2018 the government threw up their hands and stated that if the local telecoms companies would not provide the internet services they had contracted, the government would provide them and charge the supplies. Here we are 3 years later. Still barely usable internet on the east of the island, charged for 10mb, and lucky to get 3 or 4 on a good day. Nothing changed, nothing happening, the companies free to ignore their responsibilities and commitments, charge us some of the most expensive internet in the world and provide a 3rd world service. Working from home in Northside has been impossible these last 12 months and no one is doing a damned thing about it. Getting really p***sed off to be treated like this. Why does nothing ever get done here unless it personally lines the pockets of our MLAs?

    • Anonymous says:

      99.00 us a month with speeds up to 200mbs

  13. Anonymous says:

    This is not rocket science. “OfReg” should impose a pole sharing agreement on the parties.

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