Telecoms industry under pressure to shape up

| 16/02/2016 | 3 Comments
CNS Business

Alee Fa’amoe, ICTA Managing Director

(CNS Business): The Information & Communications Technology Authority has announced that it will be prioritizing quality of service standards in the local telecoms sector, specifically ensuring that broadband customers get what they pay for, as well as improving access and competition for everyone living in the Cayman Islands, regardless of the district.

The authority said it would be contracting an overseas third party provider to measure broadband connectivity around the islands. When the test are concluded, the findings will be published on its website, along with next steps to address the problems that are anticipated.

ICTA Managing Director Alee Fa’amoe said that quality of service (QOS) standards is essentially making sure that customers get what they are paying for.

“There are many areas in the industry to which this principle needs to be applied but right now we are going to be focussing our attention on the issue of broadband service,” he explained.

“The current thinking is that, as a rule of thumb, any broadband service which falls below 80% of what the provider has contracted with the customer to provide is grounds for a complaint to the licensee and the ICTA, possibly followed up with an investigation, depending on what steps are taken by the provider to fix the problem.”

With the advent of apps and free web-based tests for internet speeds, complaints about customers receiving a mere fraction of the speeds they are paying for have raised concerns across the community. The issue was the subject of a private member’s motion in the Legislative Assembly last November, brought by North Side MLA Ezzard Miller and accepted by government.

Planning Minister Kurt Tibbetts, who has responsibility for the ICTA, said revised legislation was expected in January.

“The ICTA Board has received complaint after complaint,” he said, adding that a draft bill to increase fines and improve enforcement was in the works. Tibbetts said the amendments to the law would allow people to avoid penalties for breaking contracts and switching service if they do not get what they are paying for. He said the law would also provide for random speed checks and sanctions if the telecommunication firms are not supplying the speeds people are paying for.

CIG plans action over deficient internet speeds

However, the country’s parliament has not met since November and although government was expected to call a meeting this month, it appears that has been postponed and no date has been fixed for the next time legislators will be sitting in the LA.

Another priority for the ICTA is to ensure that customers are given sufficient choice and there is adequate competition.

To this end, the ICTA said it was preparing a “choice map” that will pinpoint those areas around the three islands where customers have a choice as it relates to fibre optic cable — the fastest, most reliable and highest quality telecommunications product.

“The truth is there isn’t too much choice across the Islands at present, especially for customers in the eastern districts of Grand Cayman and the Sister Islands,” stated Fa’amoe. “Where the telecoms providers cannot meet the obligations they have under the terms of their licenses to take service to the outer districts and the Sister Islands, the ICTA has to consider other options that will finally deliver the promise of a liberalised telecommunications marketplace and give customers more choices.”

Up until now, the ICTA licensed providers to deliver services, and each committed to deliver their services within specific timeframes. This is not working well, for any number of reasons, the authority stated, and so it is currently considering whether a different approach would be better.

“What we are considering instead of individual licence rollout obligations is the concept of a Universal Service, which would provide citizens with potentially a menu of services, from any and all providers, no matter where they live in the country,” said Fa’amoe. “Universal Service is an approach that has been used in many other countries, including the United States and Singapore, to ensure that as many customers as possible have access to telecommunications services.”

Read more on the ICTA’s current priorities on Cayman News Service

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Category: ICT, Local Business, Technology, Telecommunications

Comments (3)

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  1. Rp says:

    “The authority said it would be contracting an overseas third party provider to measure broadband connectivity around the islands. ”

    ICTA this is absolutely ridiculous! Go to speedtest.com and see if you get what you pay for! No need to hire consultants! I applaud you for taking action, thou! We are being ripped off for all utilities not just telecom.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Thank God for Alee Fa’amoe.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Good on the ICTA!! It’s about time some agency defends consumers’ rights! It’s a shame their mandate does not include general service standards in the local telecom industry. The original service provider in this market, which prefers to repeatedly change it’s name rather than improve it’s service, is the biggest culprit and undoubtedly the poorest service provider in the Cayman Islands!!

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