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That lot destroyed our cables, says Caucasus Online

By Sopo Datishvili
Tuesday, October 21
Caucasus Online has accused the Tbilisi Supervisory Service of deliberately ruining the cables which provide its new service, Gelink. Caucasus Online representatives said at a press conference arranged on October 17 that such an act is against the law.

“There exists a special act, according to which the Tbilisi Supervisory Service should not harm the interests of Caucasus Online. It is only there to stop illegal constructions. It has a bounden duty to warn the interested party before it undertakes any works which will affect it. Our company has never received any information about any such works,” explained the senior lawyer of the company, David Kapanadze.

Caucasus Online has released a video which clearly shows two men trying to disconnect cables at its station. As a result of this, 6,000 subscribers of Caucasus Online in Vake-Saburtalo had their internet connection turned off. Kapanadze even named the two men seen in the video. He told the press conference that one of them worked for the Supervisory Service and one for the Electro Union.

The head of Tbilisi Supervisory Service, Lasha Makatsaria, has told The Messenger that he hadn’t seen the video, so could not say for definite whether the man identified was really his employee or not. “I can only say that we gave them a warning about illegal constructions, and even sent an official letter about this to the company,” Makatsaria said.

Caucasus Online representatives are sure that United Telecom of Georgia is behind the action taken against it. The strained relations between UTG and Caucasus Online are already well known. UTG has demanded from Caucasus Online arrears of GEL 3 million, to be paid in one week’s time. If the company won’t return this money, UTG says it will not let Caucasus Online into the stations where its technical devices are located. Caucasus Online spokesperson Eka Machitidze says that the amount of money UTG is demanding is far too high and that the company is ready to start negotiations and reach a consensus about this as soon as possible.

Caucasus Online will soon launch its new project Gelink, which will make its internet service absolutely independent of United Telecom of Georgia facilities. This will definitely mean financial loss for UTG because Caucasus Online is one of its biggest customers. One recent row between the two companies was about an increased line usage fee which Caucasus Online didn’t want to pay UTG.

Eka Machitidze said that she found it difficult to say exactly what state the web is in now, as it is constantly being damaged. She said that the company has even asked the Patrol Police for help. She added however that the company will soon find a way round this problem and nobody will be left without an internet connection. She also mentioned the court decision of October 16 that forbids UTG from creating any partial or full obstacle to the service of Caucasus Online. She said that in spite of this, UTG has deliberately obstructed the working process of the internet provider and left thousands of customers without an internet connection.

UTG spokesperson Lika Basilaia told The Messenger that they have no connection with Gelink, as it is absolutely independent of United Telecom, so if the system suffers from any kind of problem UTG is not responsible for it. “We only have canalization channels and wells that we have hired out to Caucasus Online. They haven’t obeyed the terms of the contract and they don’t pay us the money they owe us”, Basilaia added. She also mentioned the deadline the company gave to Caucasus Online, saying that so far the internet provider has not even expressed a willingness to start negotiations. She confirmed that the amount owed is GEL 3 million, although Caucasus Online says the true amount is eight times less.

The disagreement between two companies began a long time ago. The row about the increased line usage fee was so serious that the Ministry of Economic Development had to get involved. Eventually the tariff was decreased and the strained situation calmed down for a while. It appears however that Caucasus Online and United Telecom of Georgia cannot effectively manage their relations, the most important casualty in this commercial conflict being the interest of the consumer.

Caucasus Online is the biggest internet provider in Georgia and many domestic and corporate subscribers depend on its service. If the service suffers in any way, this immediately impacts upon the daily lives of thousands of people.