Flow lines cut: OfReg ‘gravely concerned’ by loss of service

power lines

OfReg CEO Malike Cummings has said he is “gravely concerned” by the negative impact on consumers who lost telecom service over the weekend when CUC removed Flow cable lines from its poles at 14 sites.

On Tuesday, the utilities regulator weighed in on the dispute, saying in a statement, CUC and Flow have agreed to work on restoring telecom service for the 40 customers who were affected by the disruption.

“The Office has 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,” OfReg CEO Malike Cummings said in the statement.

CUC previously confirmed to the Cayman Compass that it had removed the “unauthorised” attachments, among others, as they “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”.

However Flow, in its statement responding to the break in service, said in July 2020 it had reached out to CUC to seek the necessary permits to install its fibre 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,” it said in its statement.

OfReg, the regulator for both entities, said on Tuesday that after it became aware of the  disruption to service the day before, it contacted CUC/DataLink and Flow who confirmed that the removal of communications cables over the weekend had impacted some Flow consumers.

“Flow and CUC/Datalink were summoned to a meeting by OfReg on Monday morning (February 15) to resolve the issue of the restoration of service to approximately 40 Flow customers arising from actions taken by CUC/Datalink to address safety issues on February 13 and 14,” it said.

That meeting, OfReg stated, resulted in both 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”.

Flow said DataLink took the action to remove its fibre cables from the poles in 14 sites which resulted in the service disruption to customers.

CUC’s corporate communications manager Pat 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.”

OfReg issued a reminder in its statement, that “licencees in all sectors” have an obligation “to consumers, to other licensees and the Cayman Islands as whole”. The statement said OfReg expects “every effort and option is exhausted to resolve problems expeditiously in accordance with the laws and established standards”.

The Compass has reached out to Flow for an update on the restoration of service and is awaiting a response.

In reply to a Compass question on whether OfReg will be taking any action against either of the two service providers, the office said no further information is available at this time.

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