Cell-phone service disrupted at KAABOO

| 25/02/2019
Ask Auntie, CNS Local Life, Caymanian status

Any idea what the issue was with Flow at KAABOO over the weekend? I couldn’t call, text or email with my service. Everyone I know with Flow had the same issue. We ended up leaving early as we were unable to contact our sitter and my wife was concerned. I presume there were no shenanigans from Digicel as sponsor? If there were, presumably the regulator would get involved with fines etc?

Auntie’s answer: It’s certainly unfortunate that you were forced to leave early because of an issue with cell phone service. However, there doesn’t seem to have been any “shenanigans” from Flow; Digicel service was affected as well.

Alee Fa’amoe, deputy CEO and executive director of Information and Communications Technology at OfReg, the Utility Regulation and Competition Office, confirmed that “a number of complaints” came into his office regarding both providers during KAABOO, which attracted a daily audience of 10,000 people for the two-day event.

“We understand there were thousands of attendees at this event and would have expected both mobile providers to make the necessary technical arrangements to accommodate such a large, but temporary, increase in demand in that area,” he said.

As a result of the complaints, OfReg contacted both Flow and Digicel to find out what happened to cause the disruption and how to avoid a similar occurrence in the future.

When I first approached Mr Fa’amoe with your question last Monday, 18 February, right after KAABOO, he said he expected answers by the end of the week. I admit I was not optimistic that would happen but, sure enough, both companies did respond in a timely manner.

It seems that cell-phone service was a victim of the success of KAABOO. “Both mobile providers have indicated that any interruptions in mobile service during the KABOO event were the result of congestion in that area, and that services elsewhere were unaffected,” Mr Fa’amoe explained, adding that although the two providers took measures to prepare, “the sheer number of attendees placed an unexpected level of demand on their systems, causing the isolated service disruption”.

He said that going forward, OfReg would continue to talk to both providers to see how events such as KAABOO could “be better accommodated to avoid a recurrence of the issue”.

I am willing to give both Flow and Digicel a little leeway here, even though a large turnout — in fact, the largest for an event of this kind in Cayman to date — had been expected. Perhaps neither foresaw the potential for an overload to their systems.

However, now that everyone has experienced the problem, I can only hope that history will not be repeated at next year’s festival.

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Comments (49)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    What kind of loser can’t be without their phone for a few hours? It was actually nice seeing people enjoying the moment and not glued to their phones the whole time.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Judging from the few complaints, most people had no problem.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Generally, will tend to give service providers the benefit of the doubt when internet and mobile services encounter temporary disruption.

    However, not on this occasion.

    Yesterday, over 10,000 cruise shippers landed ashore. Today, 13,500, and tomorrow 17,000. Yet no disruption to services.

    10,000 people were equally not making calls and livestreaming at the same time at Kaaboo. While no doubt that phones are still minimally taxing the network when not in use, this is highly unlikely to have caused such a disruption.

    This would appear to have been a signal jammer of some kind which was deliberately employed.

    Kaaboo is a unique event and offered an opportunity to experience a music festival. However, the potential for dangerous situations to occur in those is very real. From injuries, equipment malfunctions, etc. One could even debate the potential for a terrorist attack on such an event given the impact this would have on the one of the largest global financial jurisdictions. Arguably 60% of the financial services industry human capital, were in attendance at this event.

    Access to communication is important and essential. While organizers want to retain control and prevent livestreaming of these events, Of-Reg should be taking addressing this in a far more serious manner.

  4. Anonymous says:

    Don’t think there was a cell signal hammer deployed. More than likely it was poor planning by the cell phone service providers. So many people in one area would lead to lack of capacity on the cell towers in the area. I did not see any mobile (temporary) towers on the grounds which again would mean piss poor planning by SLOW and Digifell. Even worse that Digifell was an event sponsor and you couldn’t even get service on their network. What a mess!

    • Anonymous says:

      Studies link mobile tower radiation with rare forms of cancer.

      One would think that mobile towers on the ground must be approved by a regulatory agency, for exposure to man made EMF would be huge.

      Just one example. My grandma (not in Cayman) at 82 was absolutely healthy until she got cellphone and internet. A mobile tower was installed nearby. All of a sudden she got the rarest type of cancer (less than 1%). Luckily it was contained in one organ and was removed. She is on LDN now for the rest of her life, which is the small price to pay. We moved her away from the mobile tower. She got landline and connected to internet via cable now.

  5. Anonymous says:

    We all knew this was going to happen…. remember the Dart Guy on Cayman 27 trying to assure everyone to bring their cell phones
    because there was a rumor that cell phones were not allowed.

    Caymanians this was the work around… bring your cell phones
    but you will not be able to use them..

    Dart Guy we are no fools.

    • Anonymous says:

      Private sector again.

    • JEbanks says:

      That makes no sense. Social media is what drives these events and in order to do that, festival attendees need cell coverage to upload their instagram and FB pics. Why would they purposely turn off the cell towers if social media is a key driver? it really is as simple as the towers in that area being saturated with 10k people, and yes all of them are on their social media way more than the very spreadout 10k+ cruisers.

  6. Anonymous says:

    I was having too good a time to notice. Roll on Kaaboo II cell service or no cell service!

  7. Anonymous says:

    KAABOO or not, I find a lot of the phone companies on island charges top dollar for their products yet you get third world service. I bet you walkie talkies and smoke signals are more reliable than what are currently getting. OfReg just as bad.

  8. Anonymous says:

    Two great Stephen King books came to mind: Cell and The Stand.

    The former is about a mysterious signal broadcast over the global cell phone network that turns the majority of humans into mindless vicious animals.

    The latter is about the total breakdown of society after the accidental release of a strain of influenza. Those who were immune and had handyman skills and wit survived.

    Think about it.

    • Anonymous says:

      I thought about it and I came to the conclusion you watch too much Fox News, watch too much conspiracy theory gibberish on Youtube and you struggle to tell the difference between fact and fiction.

  9. Anonymous says:

    We went to the Digicel booth at the event and they instructed us that “event organizers” had deployed a jammer, like in a casino. These are illegal in the Cayman Islands. We went to the First Aid event booth and they offered us their cell phone to make a call, realizing only then that theirs weren’t working either for staff coordination.

    It is only a miracle there were no medical emergencies at the event to expose this problem.

    Not coincidentally, halfway thru Duran Duran’s last encore song, Rio, everyone’s phones in the crowd simultaneously vibrated with restoration of 5 bars reception, as if a magic lever had been switched somewhere.

    ICTA should be fining event organizers.

  10. Anonymous says:

    I went to a Pink Floyd concert once (circa late 70’s). Wasn’t a cell phone in sight. Had a great time!

  11. Anonymous says:

    I am also of a vintage that remembers life before mobile phones. However they are now a part of life, like it or not, and it is perfectly reasonable to expect them to work when you are at an event like this. I went with friends and all of us had teens with us and it was a huge hassle not to be able to connect up with each other as and when we wanted to. Had there been a serious emergency it would have been more than just a hassle. Both FLOW and Digicel get away with substandard service at a high price, and this just proves it yet again.

    • Anonymous says:

      Everybody is taking about serious emergency. Stay home if you are a frightened hare. How events like that were managed before cellphones? How emergencies were managed before cellphones? How teenagers survived to become adults before cellphones? Because they weren’t micromanaged.
      I am glad that they jammed it.

      • Anonymous says:

        I’m with you. The ‘what if there is an emergency?’ is the never ending justification for having a cell phone. When I was a kid we just had to let people know where we were and what time we would return or check in. It just takes a little common sense. If we were meeting someone we simply decided a time and place. Yes, cell phones are now a part of our lives just as GPS navigation is, but we should always have a back up plan.

      • Anonymous says:

        You completely miss the point that organizers lied about promoted connectivity, deploying jamming tech without notice, consent, or legal authority to do so. Digicel was a title sponsor of the event!

      • Anonymous says:

        If your dad was having a heart attack, would you call 9-1-1, or spend half an hour trying to find someone who gave a toss, to call 9-1-1 for you?

        There were 5 or 6 fire dept staff, huddled in uniform, standing in great plumes of ganja smoke at an event that was promoted as smoke free…and then of course there was the cigar station selling stink sticks!

        It was unclear if anyone really knew what they were supposed to be doing, and we were only lucky there wasn’t a major test.

  12. Anonymous says:

    I knew there would be some kind of “excuse” however, I heard it was to prevent live streaming…
    In actuality, it preventing people from finding their friends and their teens. I also think it could have been very dangerous if there had been other issues regarding safety.
    We are fortunate that SO FAR we have not heard of anything that came out of it except for extreme inconvenience of being unable to communicate. I only lost (couldn’t find) 3 friends because of it but I almost missed my transport home! And that would have cost me another $50 for a cab.

    • Anonymous says:

      Oh,please… it could have, would have…. but “the very dangerous events” did not happen. And I bet eventually you got united with your friends.
      Chances of very dangerous events in the Cayman Islands were very slim.

    • Anonymous says:

      Because saying “If we get split up let’s meet on the hour at point x” is so hard to work out…

  13. Anonymous says:

    this is BS. They knew there was going to be excess demand. Any large event, taste of cayman; parade of lights always experience network problems. They should issue a full public apology and admit they’re both out of their depth. I hope Kaaboo find a new sponsor next year as the service by both was appalling and wholly foreseeable.

    • Anonymous says:

      how sensitive people have become demanding an apology. Move on. Life is beautiful.

  14. Anonymous says:

    LOL! People are so funny! You pay $$$ to get in to Kaaboo, then are so desparate to talk on your sell phone, that you leave the very expensive event to make a call!! I am certainly from a different century.

    • Anonymous says:

      they are not funny. they are “programmed” . The other thing you didn’t mention is attending a “live’ event and instead of enjoying it, sticking out their cellphone. Nuts.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Forethought is not a cayman thing.

    • Anonymous says:

      Expats own these companies and have most of the top positions. So labeling everything bad as a caymanian problem is the typical forethought of most expats.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Didn’t have a cell phone until damn near age 30. Still alive.

    • Anonymous says:

      Didn’t have cell phones at Woodstock or Live Aid, no idea how the hundreds of thousands of people survived ? Story just illustrates how retarded people are with their phones, needless to say tracking their spoiled , entitled teen brats all the time.

      • Anonymous says:

        Exactly. I would paraphrase you a little- How retarded people have become not being able to find each other WITHOUT their phones. Keeping teens on a leash (on a phone) is micromanaging. No wonder teens are so infantile these days.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I believe that is referred to as jamming.

    It is a real efficient way of stopping information from getting out to the broader population from the event.

  18. Anonymous says:

    Simple physics, only so much data can hit a transmission point at a single time. This is why during significant emergency events in the US, data providers prioritize cell traffic to/from first responders as network capacity is limited.

    Things improved Day 2 at Kaaboo as more in situ transmission points were added at the site.

    • Anonymous says:

      It’s only 10k people. In the real world that ain’t nothing…

      • Anonymous says:

        Each with 2 phones. A Cayman dis fam.

      • Anonymous says:

        But this is not the real world, is it?

        • Anonymous says:

          No, it is not.

        • Anonymous says:

          Its a dream world for expats who come here that never had life so good, and It’s the real world nightmare for Caymanians who have to put up with the racist white-privilege expats who come here and live in LaLa Land.

          • Anonymous says:

            Expats come here unaware of the dump and the cancer rates. Unaware of light and noise pollution. Unaware of mosquito control chemicals. Unaware of smart meters on the walls of their houses. Once they settled and reality kicked in, it is too late to back out, so they pretend that they are happy in paradise.

            As for Caymanians, it was you who allowed that to happen.

            • Anonymous says:

              Yeah sounds like the typical clueless expat that many of us work with. A lot of big talk in interviews and when they get here… they have no idea how to do anything but deflect from their own incompetence and blame Caymanians for everything.

              I find it funny how you come here for the sunshine and complain about light pollution. What “real world” big city did you come from that has low light pollution? Doesn’t matter… cause you couldn’t get a job back home anyway… so you come to the Caribbean to peddle your racist agenda so that you can keep your dream job.

              Cancer rates? Are you blaming Caymanians for having or causing cancer?The whole world has cancer. Try and find a cancerless country and move there… PLEASE! Just avoid Australia because it has the highest cancer rate in the world. Must be all the Caymanians that live there.

              I’m not going to generalize all expats. I know some truly awesome people who have come here and are interesting and very pleasant to talk with and to actually know as friends.

              But man… a lot of us younger Caymanians are not impressed with the demeaning, entitled expats like you and the stupid Caymanians who help bring you in.

  19. Anonymous says:

    answer: typical cayman…5 star price for 3 star quality.

  20. Anonymous says:

    “we were unable to contact our sitter”.. Stop relying so much on technology. Rely on your sitter. Just 20 years ago people managed to live their lives without cell phones.
    Once in a while cell and internet connection should “fail” just to bring people back to NOW.
    I just had a visitor, a long time friend, who, no kidding, was always staring into his phone. The latest news, aka… B.S. were more important to him than my company in my home where he stayed for free for 2 weeks. He won’t be welcome anymore.

  21. Void says:

    Good learning experience. Imagine having a huge house party with 100+ people over trying to stream Netflix from your router at the same time.

    Towers can only accommodate so many connected devices at once. Putting up more towers wasn’t a reasonable short term solution as in the long term their capacity wouldn’t be utilized.