Telecoms will have to report outages or face fines

New rules issued by Cayman’s telecoms regulator mean that licensed companies will have to report outages or could face fines.

Cayman’s phone providers, most notably Cable & Wireless, known as Flow, have recently had a number of high-profile outages.

A press release from the Information and Communications Technology Authority said Flow’s most recent outage, a month ago, lasted 10 hours and caused problems for calling long distance and between local phone carriers.

ICTA Managing Director Alee Fa’amoe said, “After the last major disruption of service by one of our licensees, we realized that we need to officially obligate all of our licensees to notify us when there are interruptions to their services. In the past, we’ve relied on them to do it as a matter of courtesy which has worked reasonably well. However, we felt we had to formalise the arrangement as the number of complaints from customers continue to increase.

“It’s a matter of accountability to the regulator, but more importantly, the customers. Consumers are simply not receiving the expected level of service for which they pay licensees each month and licensees need to answer for that. It is our mandate to ensure that they do.”

Julie Hutton, head of marketing for Flow in Cayman, told the Cayman Compass in an email that the company has been talking to ICTA about possible outage rules since May. She said, “FLOW has been supportive of the new outage notification rules.”

She added, “FLOW is disappointed however that we were not given the opportunity along with other operators to provide further input prior to the announcement of the implementation of the new reporting rules.”

The new rules say that if a service provider has an outage that lasts more than 15 minutes and potentially affects 50 subscribers or more, or affects facilities like airports or emergency services, the company has to notify ICTA within 60 minutes of figuring it out.

The new rules also say service providers have to update the regulator every two hours for outages lasting more than a couple of hours. Companies will have to submit a detailed outage report to ICTA within two weeks. If a company does not comply with the rules, it could face a fine of up to $500,000.