Digicel unblocks Viber

Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP) is a methodology and group of technologies for the delivery of voice communications and multimedia sessions over Internet Protocol (IP) networks, such as the internet.

Earlier yesterday, TATT announced its investigation of the matter saying this was prompted by complaints received over the past few days from Digicel subscribers over “perceived infringement” by the VoIP block of Viber, Tango, Nimbuzz and Fring, which came into effect at midnight on July 4.

Digicel yesterday said it has “considered the authority’s request and welcomes the tone and spirit in which it was made. Digicel is willing, in light of the authority’s commitment to carefully review these matters in consultation with the industry, to accede — effective July 09 — to (TATT’s) request in the interim period whilst preserving its rights in relation to the matter generally.”

Digicel also said it has been engaged in discussions with TATT and has sought to relay its concerns relating to the use of these applications and the attendant impact they have on consumers in TT.

“Digicel shall continue to engage with the Authority and very much welcomes the opportunity that has been provided to communicate its position and concerns,” the company stated.

TATT also issued a statement late yesterday, in which it acknowledged “the constructive manner of Digicel’s response to date.”

“Whilst the investigative process is on-going, (TATT) will discuss the fundamental issues relating to the use of number based VoIP applications. These issues certainly require further investigation and detailed consideration on the part of the Authority.”

TATT also said it had requested that Digicel consider its position in relation to the provision of access to consumers, “such that all consumers in TT are treated equally in the interim period.”

TATT made it clear that whilst it has made no determination or decision in the matter, it believes that the maintenance of the provision of these services in the interim period would be in the best interest of all stakeholders and would allow it (TATT) time to engage in this process in a calm and constructive manner.

Digicel said it blocked “unlicensed VoIP operators” because they “use telecoms networks to deliver their services, but do not pay the requisite money for the privilege.” The company also said Viber and the other VoIP services had placed “enormous pressures” on its bandwidth, with its customers’ “data usage experience being negatively impacted as a result.”

“Just as a consumer would not expect to go to a supermarket and take the goods off the shelves for free,” Digicel argued, “so the VoIP operators must be forced to pay their dues so that our customers can feel the benefits of our investments.”

Viber founder and CEO Telman Marco, told Newsday he believes the real issue is that “(Digicel) are concerned about users not using their messaging and voice products.”

Claiming “Digicel is trying to take advantage of its customers, doing something that almost no carrier in the world does today — censor the internet,” Marco said, “In their home country of Ireland, such actions are illegal.”

On the matter of data bandwidth, the Viber CEO compared Digicel to its local competitor, bmobile. “I think bmobile is doing what a carrier is supposed to do — provide network connectivity. We see no room for a compromise,” Viber’s CEO stated. “This is about users’ freedom — about the carrier not censoring them,” he said.National Security agreement with TSTT


"Digicel unblocks Viber"

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