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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