A subsidiary of Caribbean Utilities Company has been granted a licence to provide fibre optic infrastructure in Grand Cayman, according to an announcement made by the company.
The fibre optics licence was granted to DataLink Ltd. by the Cayman Islands Information and Communication Technology Authority, the company said. The licence allows DataLink – a subsidiary that is entirely owned by CUC – to eventually assume full responsibility for pole attachment agreements and optical fibre lease agreements now held by CUC.
“I am pleased that the licence has been granted, as it will allow DataLink to provide access to fibre optic and other facilities on commercial terms to companies on the Island, particularly those in the ICT sector,” CUC President Richard Hew said Friday.
CUC has owned a fibre optic network since 2000.
The licence grant follows a law change made last year by the Legislative Assembly that essentially made it financially feasible for CUC – which is a power company – to get into the telecommunications business.
CUC’s assistance was required by government to set up a national closed circuit television monitoring system for public areas. The system was created to help local police in tracking down criminal offenders and well as traffic law violators.
The Cayman Islands government already has a developed data network that allows it to transmit images captured by CCTV cameras back to storage areas either through wireless communications or telecom lines. However, that network doesn’t reach everywhere in Grand Cayman and the ability to use CUC electric lines in some areas to transmit those images helps keep CCTV’s costs down, according to government Portfolio of Internal and External Affairs Chief Officer Eric Bush.
The problem that had to be addressed in putting the CCTV system up last year was that CUC was not considered a telecommunications company under the Information and Communication Technology Authority Law and it needed to be licensed under that legislation if its existing power lines were to be used for CCTV.
Such a licence typically requires telecom companies to pay 6 per cent of their annual revenues to the regulator, the Information and Communications Technology Authority.
“Right now, that means they would have to pay 6 per cent of their profits for everything, including electricity service,” Mr. Bush said in early 2011.
An exemption to the country’s ICTA Law allows CUC to avoid that fee by forming a subsidiary – DataLink – to handle transmissions for the government’s CCTV project.
For that consideration, government will pay “a negligible fee” to the newly formed CUC subsidiary for the use of its power lines for CCTV image transmission.
What CUC/DataLink might use the licence for in addition to the public CCTV system wasn’t known.
“There is tremendous potential for DataLink,” said President Andrew Small. “Over the years, we have had a number of requests for access to this fibre optic network and I am very pleased that we are now in a position to make it available.”