An email update from Sure on local Internet services. Get set go!

There has been confusion about the legality of local IP services or applications with Sure South Atlantic’s Exclusive Operating Licence in place. This concern has now been removed. As discussed in a previous post, I found there was a caveat in the Licence that allowed for the creation of local OTT applications without breaking Sure’s exclusive communications licence:

“for the avoidance of doubt [the exclusive licence] excludes Over The Top Services”.

All go now for local Falkland Islands’ Internet services.

The Attorney General also confirmed this with an expected legal Caveat:

“Without straying into giving any legal analysis or opinion, it is obvious that over the top services… are not prohibited by the exclusive licence held by Sure.  Nor do the operators of such services require any licence from the Falkland Islands Government or Communications Regulator to do so”.

The full background to this issue can be found here.

Sure South Atlantic’s position

I want to bring this subject up to date as I put this discussion on hold in April 2020 due to Covid. An October 2020 private email to the CEO of Sure South Atlantic elicited the following positive and precise response.

“Dear Chris

Since the renewal of our Exclusive operating licence Sure have invested significant amounts on new infrastructure, capacity and services including customer data quotas. More recently we have partnered with the Falkland Islands Government (FIG) to deliver a step change in international capacity resulting in enhanced broadband products well beyond what would normally be achievable commercially from a small, geographically dispersed population within the Islands. This has seen all customers benefit from greater access to Over The Top services such as  Netflix, Apple TV and others.

Sure have already been working with Falkland Island business and government to provide locally based services, firstly with FIG & BFBS and now with another local media company.

Sure is happy to engage with other business to look at the feasibility of hosting services locally, as has been the case with BFBS and FIG, and we will continue to do so on a case by case basis.

Best regards

I’m pleased to see this clarity from Sure in respect to wanting to work with Falkland Islands’ entrepreneurs to create locally managed applications and services.

Sure South Atlantic annual telecommunications presentation

A question was asked about local Internet services at the Chamber of Commerce on Wednesday, 7th October 2020.

I want to make a few comments about what I heard.

“Many common platforms (services or apps) – such as Microsoft Teams and 365 want to dial home and drive off-island traffic”.

I agree, but we are not talking about dominant global apps that are hosted in datacentres around the world such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Microsoft 365 etc. which do drive satellite IP traffic. It would not be the intention of local services to replace these apps but to complement them. There are plenty of Open Source apps that could be used, and servers are cheap these days.

Appropriately selected locally hosted OTT applications WILL NOT drive up IP traffic on the satellite but probably reduce it as they will be designed only to use Sure’s local IP network. For example, a business back-up service or a video conference service.

“Unlimited high local usage is untenable and will break the local network but we could look at individual cases.” and “There is a risk of contention in the local network”

Of course, “unlimited” local traffic from local services could “break the local network” and be “untenable”. However, the introduction of local services would be undertaken on a fully managed-introduction basis (as stated by Sure itself) to ensure overall network Quality of Service (QoS) would not be degraded. This is standard procedure for a telecommunications service provider after all.

“It will drive interest to increase investment in the local network beyond what we can recover from people.” – “How do you recover the cost of upgrading the local network?.”

Such concern is entirely valid, but should not be used to suppress or hold back communications innovation on the islands that will improve the islands’digital life. Understanding this is key to the prosperity of the islands in the 21st century and deserves a study involving all stakeholders.

Also, local OTT services will probably be subscription-based and revenues should in the long term cover the costs of running the service and contribute to Sure South Atlantic’s network costs if successful.

It’s time to change the discussion about local Internet services from a ‘glass half empty’ to a ‘glass half full attitude’.

We have shown that nothing is preventing any group of individuals or businesses coming together to create a local start-up Internet service business either on a full-time or part-time basis. The first step is to come up with an idea and then to talk to consumers and businesses about whether they would be interested in subscribing. A business case would need to be created and discussions take place with Sure about their network’s ability to support the service’s traffic, network costs and how usage quotas would be handled for their service.

KTV’s KTVGo media streaming service

The Sure South Atlantic email, it refers to them working with “another local media company.” I assume this is KTV’s proposed service described on the FaceBook Business Community Board on July 3rd, 2020. Of course, there could be another one!

“We at KTV are excited about a new service we are planning to launch in the near future and would like to give you an early heads up about this!

We are calling it KTVGo. We plan to extend our current satellite service by offering our subscription channels to you by streaming over the Islands internet. To this end we are working with Sure to be able to deliver this service on their network as soon as possible. We hope to start small scale trials soon.

The service will be initially offered to the Camp as a priority. We plan to offer many of our most popular channels that we currently broadcast in Stanley, initially in SD format. This would include live sport, FITV, documentary channels from the Discovery and National Geographic group, and some of our best movie and series channels.

We would like to take this opportunity to ask for your suggestions as to which of your favourite channels you would like us to stream. This will enable us to prioritise our development activities.
Preconfigured decoders will be free of charge for subscribers to go with the service.We look forward to hearing from you and hope you are as excited about this as we are”.

I look forward to hearing about more local Internet services being proposed and launched. This would create real opportunities for the young generation as they have the knowledge, technical know-how and enthusiasm to get such ventures off the ground.

So, come on young Falkland Islanders get your thinking caps on. Nothing is stopping you!

Good luck!

Copyright: November 2020, OpenFalklands

3 Replies to “An email update from Sure on local Internet services. Get set go!

  1. I suggested all of this when I was C&W’s network planner in about 2005/6 when negotiations were underway for the camp network upgrades. I proposed installing media servers to stream services for KTV, BFBS, FIRS etc.. This proposal was firmly rejected by FIG at the time ….. go figure… 16 years on and it’s finally happened.. This is the main reason that I left the role. FIG were just a bunch of idiots. It is not all C&W / Sure’s fault.

  2. Let me begin by saying that it has become clear that the Falkland’s regulatory scheme has become untenable and Sure’s position is bullshit.

    With the advent of Starlink it has become crystal clear that Sure’s monopoly must be rescinded, with immediate effect. A single state sanctioned monopoly is an anachronism that is holding the Falkland’s back and will keep the Falklands a backwater unless repealed.

    Sure’s statement is totally self-serving and contains some grade A BS.

    First of all, billing for local traffic is an offence bordering on crimes against humanity.

    Secondly, it is trivial to upgrade the local network to tens of gigabits per second. If Sure can’t be arsed to do it, they should get off the pot and let somebody else have a go at it.

    Third, unlimited high local usage is untenable only if you have a financial interest in making it so. If Sure can’t find the pocket change to upgrade networks, let those that have the means do it instead. A local co-op for example.

    Sure has become an impediment to development of the Falklands. Let it, or at the very least it’s monopoly, join the dinosaurs.

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