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Free Wi-Fi in Turkish Marinas - its Days are Numbered

By Sue Richards last modified Apr 08, 2009 08:30 PM

Published: 2009-04-08 20:30:06
Countries: Turkey

By Malcolm Snook

Setur Marinas is a large company which owns a string of marinas around the beautiful coast of Turkey. Many yachtsmen and women from various nations over winter in a Setur marina, indeed some base themselves in a Setur marina year round, a not inexpensive commitment.

Until a few days ago Setur Marinas offered their customers WiFi internet connection within the mooring fee, in common it must be said with many other Mediterranean marinas. It certainly influenced my choice when it came to choosing a marina to over winter in this season (2008/2009).

A few days ago all the internet WiFi points in the marina were simply switched off. No one politely came around ahead of time and said, "sorry, but we need to shut down for maintenance" or the like, "so if you need to send anything urgent, perhaps you should do it now". No, the internet simply shut down and left us out of contact. Nobody came around after the event either and so the rumour mill swung into action. It was even suggested a visit from President Obama was on the cards after the G20 summit and it was all to do with security.

Eventually, what I now believe to be the truth came to light. The general manager of all Setur Marinas had been told by a lawyer that if anyone illegally downloaded music, or other copyright material the marina could be liable. Of course there is no history of such an event, even if this is the whole truth, however, he then sent a message to the managers of each marina ordering them to close down internet access, which is why I and all the other foreigners living aboard their boats here and in other Setur marinas have been cast adrift on the sea of anonymity.

I have not studied the small print of my contract but certainly from a moral standpoint, having offered internet access before I came here, they are in breach of contract. Whether that would stand up under Turkish law I do not know and I don't have the time or money to find out. Maybe someone else does. A protest petition is in preparation.

I'm told that a whole raft of new regulations have also been introduced recently by the marina management concerning the use by boat owners of outside contractors and other things, I wasn't at that meeting, but what I would say is this.

If you're thinking of using a Setur marina, now or in the near future, think carefully about it and check what you're signing up to, especially if affordable communication with the outside world is important to you.

The Managing Director of Setur Marinas sent the following response to this complaint.

I thank for asking my response on some of our customers' complaints with regard to temporary cancellation of wifi service in our marinas. Below, please find my response on this issue.

A Law (No: 5651) about internet crimes that came into force at the end of 2007 held all providers like us be responsible to get a certificate issued by Telecommunication authorities, and to keep, and report monthly a very detailed record for each user as when (date and time) he/she got connected, and disconnected to internet, web sites visited, etc. for each and every access to be matched with user's detailed identification info, and IP address. Failing to obey the rules of this law, provider company will be sentenced to a fine in the range of 10.000 - 50.000 TL besides the manager being sued personally.

Actually we've got informed by this legislation recently, and immediately took necessary steps to cope with the requirements of this law which means new equipment and new software, and of course finding the right company to provide us with this specific service. Besides we had to switch off the wifi access as soon as we were sure that our action was illegal. Informing our customers at the first step was done by announcing this situation via VHF.

At the moment there are lots of places providing internet access freely, as we did till last week, what can I say, some obey the laws, and some does not, of which I guess most of the latter are not aware of this new regulation yet. Any marina or any provider in Turkey will come across with this obligatory shut down when they got aware of this law in near future, unless they dare to violate the law.

We will do our best to re-establish wifi service meeting the legal requirements in all of the Setur Marinas. With my apologies to our esteemed customers for this situation which actually is not a result of our personal decision, I kindly ask for their understanding, and patience, and thank them in advance through your site.

Sincerely yours,

Vedat Midilli

Footnote from Malcolm Snook, currently in Netsel Marina, Marmaris

We all had a meeting with management on Tuesday, 7 April, when they put the same case as above. They say they'll get a new system that monitors us all and which websites we visit when etc. "very soon". They won't say when "very soon" is, so most of us think months rather than days, when of course many of us will have left. The local management however are showing willing by allowing people to go to the office with their passport, and sign a disclaimer absolving the marina and keep a record of websites visited etc. and use a non wireless connection. Not practical for so many and I'm using a local restaurant, but it's a gesture.