The Utility Regulation and Competition Office (OfReg) confirms that amidst ongoing misinformation and rumors that it does not intend to charge any local businesses that offering free WiFi to their patrons.
The OfReg recently reminded businesses that the law requires businesses that offer WiFi services to obtain a license. CMR sources inform us that there are 9 companies that currently offer such services and are charging customers for it. The enforcement reminder is limited to those companies only – re-sellers.
Despite the law being in place since 2011, it has never been enforced against local businesses that offer free WiFi. It is not the intent to do so now. OfReg Deputy CEO, Alee Fa'amoe, has recently informed the media that they are considering creating a new license category for hotels, cafes, restaurants, and other locations that offer free WiFi to customers – this category would explicitly be exempted from the law and related fees and also create greater legislative clarity on the issue.
The concerns were raised in several articles and editorial pieces by a local daily newspaper that misunderstood the intent of the enforcement efforts. Apparently, it assumed that coffee shops offering free WiFi would be subject to a licensing fee.
Mr. Fa’amoe noted “it is not the intention of the office to charge license fees for free WiFi systems. “It is unfortunate that our previous statements to certain media outlets were misunderstood.”
OfReg is the independent multi-sector regulatory authority established by the enactment of the Utility Regulation and Competition Law 2016 and commenced operations on 16 January 2017 combining the former Information & Communications Technology Authority, Electricity Regulatory Authority, and Petroleum Inspectorate.