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Caribbean Utilities Company has removed Flow’s “unauthorised attachments” from its poles over the weekend, causing service disruption for the telecom provider’s customers in the eastern districts.
In an emailed response, following queries from the Cayman Compass Monday, CUC’s Corporate Communications Manager Pat Bynoe-Clarke confirmed action had been taken by the utilities company.
“The removed attachments, among others, were made without the requisite attachment permits being granted by CUC subsidiary DataLink, Ltd and represented an immediate safety concern as a result of their proximity to the electrical lines and other infrastructure,” Bynoe-Clarke said in her statement.
On Monday, the Compass contacted Flow, CUC and the utility regulator OfReg for comment on the developing dispute after reports that customers in Savannah and Bodden Town had lost service over the weekend.
Flow Cayman, in a statement to the Compass Monday evening, confirmed that some of its customers in Bodden Town were currently experiencing service disruptions resulting from “cuts to its fiber and copper network caused by the Caribbean Utilities Company Limited (CUC) over the weekend”.
Flow, in its statement, said in July 2020 it had reached out to CUC to seek the necessary permits to install its fiber on CUC’s poles.
“As a result of the delays from CUC, and the increasing demands from customers for greater broadband speeds, accelerated due to COVID, Flow decided to proceed with its fiber roll out to address ongoing service concerns from the communities in the area. Both CUC and DataLink raised issues concerning the safety of the state of their current network,” it said.
Flow added, “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.”
Bynoe-Clarke, in her statement on the situation said, “Discussions are currently ongoing between CUC, DataLink, the telecom licensee and OfReg for a resolution to the issues and to prevent telecom customers from extended disconnection from service as a result of the unsafe attachments.”
Flow also confirmed it had been in communication with OfReg about its “efforts to rectify the situation with CUC”.
The company, it said, is working closely with CUC to restore services in the shortest possible timeframe and it apologised to customers for the inconvenience caused
The issue of sharing or reserving space on poles has been a longstanding dispute between telecom licensees and CUC subsidiary DataLink; both the regulator OfReg and the courts have previously attempted to resolve the problem.
C3, another telecom licensee, has also been embroiled in legal wrangling over the same issue.
Back in 2019 Justice Marlene Carter ruled that OfReg failed to follow the law in ruling that DataLink Ltd. could not charge reservation fees for future use of its power poles.
The case, filed by DataLink in August 2017, hinged on the argument that OfReg did not issue a draft decision, as required by its own regulations, before publishing its final decision on the reservation fee matter.
The dispute arose when internet provider C3 complained to OfReg that the fees it had paid to DataLink to reserve space for future fibre optic lines were not equivalent to those paid by other companies, including Flow and Logic.
Following an investigation, OfReg officials ruled that DataLink lacked the authority to charge such fees and that it should reimburse the three companies for the money they had paid.
When DataLink applied for a judicial review of the decision, it complained that it never had the opportunity to comment on OfReg’s final decision because the draft of that decision was not published.