While declining to comment on the blocking of Over-The-Top (OTT) services such as Whatsapp by certain telecommunications companies in the Territory, Minister for Communications and Works, Hon. Mark Vanterpool stated that it is an activity he hopes is not taking place, and that matters such as those lie within the prerogatives of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC).
During a press conference on 8 October the Minister’s view on the hot issue that has now become a region-wide concern was sought and he announced: “It’s not something I would like to see happen, but it’s not something I would comment on; it’s for the TRC and I need to stay out of their affairs in that sense.”
“We have a regulator and their responsibility is to ensure that does not happen and if it does, they will take action or carriers can discuss it among themselves and if they are not pleased and if they feel that nothing is being done about it through the regulatory commission and the laws, to take action as they see fit,” the Minister added.
The issue is a concerning one for the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), who as recent as 4 September issued another statement noting reports that mobile service providers continue to hinder Over-the-Top services such as Whatsapp on their network. The organization also called on the regulatory commissions in the OECS to log complaints of the blocks as evidence.
In its renewed appeal ECTEL stated that it has received media reports that some telecommunications providers have blocked OTT services, such as, but not limited to, WhatsApp voice service, over their telecommunications network in some ECTEL Member States.
The organization stated that it has received complaints from Grenada, St. Vincent and the Grenadines, Saint Lucia, and Dominica. “ECTEL has been advised that a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers are concerned over these reports,” the statement said.
While the BVI was not listed as one of the OECS jurisdictions that issued a complaint to ECTEL it was reported that customers did encounter issues of OTT blocking.