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‘Stop blocking OTT services’


‘Stop blocking OTT services’

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Stop blocking WhatsApp and other over-the-top (OTT) communications services.

Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) managing director Embert Charles has issued that directive to telecommunications operators providing service in ECTEL member states – Grenada, St Vincent and the Grenadines, St Lucia, and Dominica.

Charles was responding to recent media reports that such services were being blocked.

“ECTEL has been advised that a wide range of stakeholders, including policymakers, are concerned over these reports,” he said in a notice on the matter.

“ECTEL is therefore appealing to all services providers operating within its members states to immediately refrain from the practice of blocking OTT services, websites and or throttling speeds, and commit to the principle of an open Internet, as concluded through a public consultation conducted by ECTEL and the national telecommunications regulatory authorities (NTRCs) between September 23, 2013 and November 4, 2013.”

Charles said “the interception on any communication without the consent of the receiving party is a breach of provisions of the operator’s licence and the action also contravenes the national laws”.

“To ensure the principle of an open Internet is observed, ECTEL has requested all NTRCs to report any documented cases of blocking of OTT services in their jurisdictions. In addition, ECTEL has had meetings with some service providers, and has  requested documented evidence of the impact of OTT services on their key performance business indicators, such as revenue, profit, network performance, voice and traffic data, and customer and device uptake,” he noted.

“ECTEL is advising the public to report instances of blocking of OTT services to their service providers in the first instancce, and if not resolved, to report to their respective NTRCs. The procedures for filing complaints against a service provider are contained in the Dispute Resolution Regulations in all the ECTEL member states.”

Charles said such reporting was necessary “so as to continuously furnish the regulatory body with documented evidence needed to address this matter”.

“ECTEL will ensure the input from the public in all member states continue to remain an important component of the formation of regulatory policy. ECTEL is committed to working towards a sustainable regulatory solution, which is consistent with international best practice, but also facilitates the continued growth of the telecommunications sector in the Eastern Caribbean region,” he added.