Attempts To Block Over The Top Services Continue


On Friday 4 September the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL) 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.

As such ECTEL appealed to all Service Providers operating within the OECS Member 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 23rd September 2013 and 4th November 2013.

“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,” the organization said.

Additionally, ECTEL held 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.

ECTEL is advising the public to report instances of blocking of OTT services to their Service Providers in the first instance, 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.

Embert Charles, Managing Director of ECTEL stated that it is imperative that the telecommunications regulatory commissions in the various jurisdictions log reports of the of the OTT blocks.  This reporting, he said would furnish the regulatory body with documented evidence needed to address this matter.