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Trinidad regulator weighs in on VoIP issue

Published:Thursday | July 10, 2014 | 12:00 AM

The Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad & Tobago (TATT) has asked Digicel to restrain from blocking customers from using third party Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) while it conducts an investigation into the matter.

Digicel had earlier this week informed customers that they would no longer be allowed to use VoIP services, which allow voice communication and multimedia sessions over the Internet.

The move blocked customers from utilising Viber and other services.

TATT said in a statement issued late Tuesday that it asked Digicel to reconsider and lift the suspension for the benefit of consumers until the issue is resolved.

"Whilst the authority has made no determination or decision in the matter, we believe 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 the authority time to engage in this process in a calm and constructive manner," TATT said.

Digicel said it is considering the 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 9 - to (TATT's) request in the interim period whilst preserving its rights in relation to the matter generally," said the telecom.

The telecommunication company said that 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 Trinidad.

"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.

The other local telecoms, the Telecommunication Services of Trinidads and Tobago, said that while it would not comment on the Digicel decision to ban VoIP, it described the service as an "inescapable" feature of modern telecommunications that is comparable to email and games.

Earlier, TATT said it has so far received several complaints from Digicel customers over the issue and the matter will be raised with the mobile provider.

"The authority recognises the concerns of both consumers and Digicel in this matter and would like to advise the general public we intend to raise these concerns with Digicel and seek clarification of these concerns.

"The authority is in the interim conducting its own investigation into the matter and on completion of its investigation will articulate its position and take any further action that may be required," the release said.