This afternoon, Digicel’s Communications Manager Penny Gomez responded for a request for clarification on the company’s recent decision to ban unlicensed VOIP services.
That request was framed as four questions…
Is the list of services on Digicel’s website conclusive and fulsome or will any “unlicensed” VOIP service be banned as well?
Skype is the most widely used VOIP software in T&T, is the use of that service banned as well?
Does Digicel have an established procedure for a VOIP product to be licensed for use on the network?
Does Digicel have hard numbers or statistics that demonstrate how VOIP products are being used on its networks?
This was the company’s response.
At the moment, all unlicenced phone number-based VoIP services are blocked (i.e. those companies which use numbers assigned by the regulators to Digicel in its markets).
Both Tango and Viber are examples of these operators which use the numbers assigned to Digicel, and are therefore blocked. Digicel is however actively considering the position of all unlicenced VoIP operators in each of its markets along with the nature of the operators – and this is ongoing. Digicel believes however, that no matter the method of delivery for these services, these operators are at risk of illegal bypass activity.
Digicel is disappointed that, despite reaching out to many of these VoIP companies almost a year ago in an effort to collaborate, they persist in trying to deliver calls illegally. Some of these companies still refuse to engage with Digicel in order to reach a fair agreement which would see the correct fees being paid; which fees are paid by legitimate carriers from around the world.
Quite apart from taking a responsible position in the interest of Trinidad and Tobago, Digicel is taking this action to protect its business, its customers and its service integrity. Digicel has invested millions in its network infrastructure in Trinidad and Tobago and will continue to do so. In contrast, VoIP providers seek to use and benefit from that investment in a parasitic manner without making any local investment of their own. Like any business around the world, we cannot provide service to any party that refuses to pay their bills.
Viber, for example, has an interconnect arrangement with Digicel. There are substantial amounts due to Digicel under that arrangement. While an invoice has been issued, Viber steadfastly refuses to pay these amounts due and have left us with no choice but to stop offering service until the invoice is paid.
Digicel calls on these companies to pay the outstanding invoices sent to them. If these companies agree to do so, then Digicel will have no hesitation in allowing customers to once again use their services.
However, Digicel is not prepared to provide a free ride to parties who refuse completely to pay for delivering calls. Digicel cannot allow these parties to seek to completely undermine and devalue massive investments in network infrastructure that have been made in Trinidad and Tobago.