ECTEL Is­sues State­ment on the Block­ing of OTT Ser­vices

The Star (St. Lucia) - - LOCAL -

The Eastern Caribbean Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Au­thor­ity (ECTEL) has re­ceived media re­ports that some telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions providers have blocked over­the-top (OTT) ser­vices such as, but not lim­ited to, What­sApp voice ser­vice, over their telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions net­work in some ECTEL mem­ber states: Gre­nada, St. Vin­cent and the Gre­nadines, Saint Lu­cia, Do­minica.

ECTEL has been ad­vised that a wide range of stake­hold­ers, in­clud­ing pol­icy mak­ers, are con­cerned over these re­ports.

ECTEL is there­fore ap­peal­ing to all ser­vices providers op­er­at­ing within its 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.

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.

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 NTRC. The pro­ce­dures for fil­ing com­plaints against a ser­vice provider are con­tained in the Dis­pute Res­o­lu­tion Reg­u­la­tions in all the ECTEL mem­ber states.

It is im­per­a­tive that this re­port­ing oc­curs 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 con­tin­ues to re­main an im­por­tant com­po­nent in 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.

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