Wheatley concerned over Digicel, LIME’s block of VoIP

ICT Act needs to be drafted and tabled, opposition spokesman says

KINGSTON, Jamaica— Opposition Spokesman on ICT, Digital Society Development and the Environment, Dr Andrew Wheatley, is expressing concern regarding the recently announced action of telecommunications providers LIME and Digicel to block the use of certain VoIP applications, such as Skype & Viber, on their networks.

“This latest action by the telecoms providers is setting a dangerous precedent and could have an adverse effect on a country trying to encourage greater use of ICTs for economic development,” Dr Wheatley said.

“The Government needs to clearly state how it intends to create the needed frameworks to encourage ICT development while permitting the actions announced by the telecoms companies,” Dr Wheatley said adding that in the very same week [of the providers’ actions] the relevant Minister of State spoke about the importance of acceleration of entrepreneurial efforts in the ICT sector.

Dr Wheatley said that the silence of the Office of Utilities Regulation’s (OUR) was also of concern.

"The Government and the OUR need to say how they view the rights of consumers who have paid for access to mobile & data networks to use applications, and then see their access and use of these applications, which have become so integral to everyday life and day to day communication, being limited in this manner.”

He argued that "The current situation highlights the need for the Government to accelerate the drafting and tabling of the promised ICT Act which would no doubt address issues of this nature. In its current form, the legislation allows telecoms providers to take advantage of existing gaps, so this needs to be corrected”.