Jamaica’s opposition spokesperson on ICT, Digital Economy and the Environment, Andrew Wheatley, has called on the country’s telecoms watchdog, the Office of Utilities Regulation (OUR), to publish its decision on the blocking of VoIP and over-the-top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp and Viber. The Jamaica Observer reports Wheatley as saying: ‘It has now been over a year since concerns regarding this unresolved issue was brought to the fore by the Opposition, yet, with no explanation for the delays, the OUR is yet to advise the public of its final decision. This is totally unacceptable.’
In July 2014 local telcos LIME and Digicel announced that they would no longer be carrying the VoIP services; a Digicel statement said at the time: ‘Unlicensed VoIP operators like Viber and Numbuzz use telecoms networks to deliver their services but do not pay the requisite money for the privilege … Digicel believes that this unauthorised use of its network amounts to illegal bypass activity.’ The OUR immediately said it would meet with Digicel and LIME, as well as consumer groups, to discuss the move, but subsequently said it would need to review the case in more detail, with a decision expected in the first half of 2015. Wheatley accused the government and the regulator of ‘treating the Jamaican consumer with utter contempt’, and called for the OUR to issue a final ruling on the matter.