Government contemplating licenses/fees for WiFi hot spots

Cayman Compass is the Cayman Islands' most trusted news website. We provide you with the latest breaking news from the Cayman Islands, as well as other parts of the Caribbean.
Cayman Compass is the Cayman Islands' most-trusted news website. We provide you with the latest breaking news from the Cayman Islands, as well as other parts of the Caribbean.

Cayman’s telecommunications regulator is reviewing licensing for businesses that operate WiFi “hot spots” to determine which businesses, if any, should have to pay government fees.

The topic was raised earlier this year following a notice from OfReg, Cayman’s newly formed utilities and commodities regulator, which indicated that a number of businesses charging customers to use their wireless internet service should be paying licensing fees to government.

“There are currently no WiFi hot spot providers licensed by the office to offer such service within the Cayman Islands,” the notice issued in February states.

Government ICT officials told the Cayman Compass in May that at least nine companies were “illegally” charging customers for wireless internet access.

However, OfReg has not taken any enforcement action since then and has acknowledged that current rules set out under Cayman’s Information and Communications Technology Law may not reflect “reality and the rapidly changing landscape of technology.”

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Alee Fa’amoe, OfReg’s executive director for information and communications technology [abbreviated as ICT], said the most recent enforcement notice issued under the law dates to 2011.

It states: “The authority has … determined that all ICT services that use an ICT network to provide services to the public, whether or not for a fee or for commercial profit, are required to be licensed …”

Strictly interpreted, this notice seems to require that every business providing WiFi to its customers would have to pay for a license.

If that interpretation were to be adopted, it would mean that every corner coffee shop that now provides free WiFi for customers would have to pay for a licensing fee. Hotels that provide internet access, whether or not for free, would have to have a license.

The OfReg notice issued in February states: “If you are providing or reselling an ICT service without a license, you should stop immediately.” However, the OfReg notice at the time applied only to those businesses that were charging customers for the service.

The WiFi provider will not be licensed in the same way large telecommunications companies, such as FLOW and Digicel, are licensed. Rather, Mr. Fa’amoe said, it would operate similar to the noncommercial use of radio waves.

“While WiFi has traditionally been used for private, noncommercial uses, there are potential commercial applications for WiFi, and the office is considering how we might offer licenses which would actually encourage that kind of entrepreneurial use of the technology,” Mr. Fa’amoe said. “We would envision that kind of license attracting a low fee, certainly nothing approaching the kind of fees which a traditional [telecom] license would attract.”

Mr. Fa’amoe said OfReg will provide clarity on the issue for business owners and customers “very shortly.”

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    • I think that j Bodden hit the nail on the head , A bit greedy aren’t we .
      I think that we can look forward to much more of this greed by Government now that the population has doubled .
      There’s a lot of things and charges that Government is doing to generate revenue that is not necessary , like a visitor to just get a little piece of paper to say you have CI driver license when you already have one , and is charged CI $16 for that , and so much more .

      Why aren’t Government satisfied with the taxes that are charged to the providers . Then I think that if you look on your utility bill you would see Government taxes that you are paying for too again .

  1. If providers of free WiFi Hot Spots, whether the corner coffee shop or Camana Bay are forced to pay a fee for the pleasure of offering this free service, a number will stop offering it.

    This will force those people who were previously using free WiFi to use mobile data instead. To the sole benefit of C and W and Digicel.

    How is this good for the general public?

  2. “the office is considering how we might offer licenses which would actually encourage that kind of entrepreneurial use of the technology …” is nonsense. It will do the opposite and anyone in private sector will tell you so.

    “We would envision that kind of license attracting a low fee” …. so why bother.

    The only thing the Govt would accomplish is adding on a layer of bureaucracy that would cost them more to administer than they would earn, while adding another cumbersome process to an already business unfriendly atmosphere.

  3. I think the government should be concerned with this:
    “What is clear is that 5g will include the higher Millimeter Wave frequencies never before used for public Internet and communications technology. These waves do not travel easily through buildings so will require millions of new cell towers. The wireless telecom industry is aggressively seeking to outfit nearly every lamppost and utility post around the country with a wireless “small cell” antenna potentially beaming hazardous radiation next to, or into our homes, 24/7.” “In light of the robust and ever growing independent science, showing adverse health effects from radiofrequency microwave radiation, the densification of our neighborhoods with 5G-infrastructure may prove to be a very ill-conceived idea.”

    Many countries are banning 5G technology. What the Cayman Islands are going to do?

  4. By year 2020 the telecom industry intends to cover America with over 2 million of these “small cells” installed on every lamp post, on buildings, power poles, basically, everywhere,

    giving no person, bug, or animal a place to escape.

    In addition, those hidden “sensors” mentioned earlier that will be tucked in every item you buy off a shelf will be monitoring, tracking, and sending out signals, experts have discovered that the skin, our largest organ, does respond to 5G and in fact our sweat ducts can act as antennas and can receive signals.
    This has not been tested for safety and experts in the field expect a jump in melanoma rates around the nation.

    Former government physicist Dr. Ron Powell points out the plans “would irradiate everyone, including the most vulnerable to harm from radiofrequency radiation: pregnant women, unborn children, young children…the elderly, the disabled, and the chronically ill…

  5. In the meantime, the wireless industry is pushing this through so quickly it is ignoring the Internatonal EMF Scientists’ Appeal to the United Nations. As of March 22, 2017, the appeal has received 225 signatures from 41 nations “to the United Nations asking the UN and all its member states in the world, encouraging the World Health Organization (WHO) to exert strong leadership in fostering the development of more protective EMF guidelines about health risks, particularly risk to children and fetal development. By not taking action that who is failing to fulfill its role as a preeminent international public health agency.”

  6. Throughout the developed world, ex-accountants, medical doctors, attorneys, school teachers, computer programmers and CEO’s are seeking wilderness areas, farms, far-off communities, caves, remote beaches, secluded valleys, basement apartments and radio-free white zones where they can live without pain. Places where they can sleep and wake without the common EHS symptoms of headaches, heart palpitations and extreme fatigue. These electro-hypersensitive (EHS) individuals are the canaries in the global coal mine of wireless technology and electrical pollution. Will we begin to recognize the message they are conveying?