Within the region, where liberalization has taken place, a
technology neutral approach has been adopted to the
licensing of voice services.
In addition to incumbent telecoms, other network operators
and service providers have been issued with various types
of licenses to provide voice services – e.g. internet service
providers, international voice service providers & domestic voice service
To date, no jurisdiction has issued specific class of service
licenses for VoIP Services.
In Bahamas, Guyana & Antigua, incumbent telecoms are
still operating under exclusive franchises.
COUNTRY VoIP STATUS Anguilla No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license. Considerations being given for class of service license for VoIP services for the future. Antigua Illegal. Issue to be addressed as market is liberalized. Bahamas No legislation. BTC still has the exclusive franchise to offer voice telephony services in Bahamas . Barbados Policy is in development. VoIP service providers will need to be licensed as either a domestic or international operator and registered in Barbados. VoIP service providers should have interconnection with the domestic network (PSTN,) VoIP (the service) includes but is not limited to P2P, PC to phone, Phone to PC, and Phone to Phone services. VoIP service includes only those services that allow access to and/or from the Public Switched Telephone Network (PSTN) and use North American Numbering Plan (NANP) – conforming numbers (i.e. not Peer to Peer (P2P) services. Cayman No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license
COUNTRY VoIP STATUS Dominica No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license Grenada No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license Guyana No legislation. GT&T still operates under exclusive license, as the reform of the sector and modernization of its regulations is yet to take place. Jamaica No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license. Specific number ranges have been allocated for VoIP services. Consultation on VoIP pending. St Kitts No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license St Lucia No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license St Vincent No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license Suriname No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license Trinidad & Tobago No specific license but allowed under technology neutral voice services license. There are plans to consider issues such as the call center operators who offer international calling services and issues such as numbering, location and the provision of emergency services.
What Regional Telecoms Are saying About VoIP Services
From a recent CANTO survey of 14 regional markets, the following
are some key additional findings
In all markets there is evidence of the presence of independent international VoIP operators such as Skype and Vonage.
At least one market indicated that there is evidence of agents operating to get persons to sign-up for programmes such as Vonage Affinity Programmes.
There is also evidence of persons providing technical support to users of independent VoIP services.
Individuals purchase equipment such as analogue terminal adaptors which allow a standard telephone to be plugged into a broadband connection.
Local licensed operators and or service providers such as ISPs & international call centers offer VoIP services, sometimes illegally.
VoIP Challenges for Regional Operators Unlicensed international operators compete with licensed operators for international voice revenue. Voice services provided by incumbent licensed operators are constrained by regulations. Access plus local voice services provided by incumbent operators are generally provided at subsidized rates, while they loose high margin international traffic to illegal operators. Local network providers invest in and maintain telecoms infrastructure that are used freely by the unlicensed operators.
As licensed operators upgrade their network to new technology to achieve cost reductions necessary to compete, they further facilitate the erosion of their voice revenue stream.
Unlicensed operators are allowed to compete unfairly, as they are not required to support economic development through taxation, payment of licensing fees, participation in universal service or provide employment.
Regulators have not been responsive to the plight of licensed operators.
There is a crippling lag between technology changes, legislative changes and regulatory policy development.
A review of the approaches to VoIP regulations globally
reveals that generally two frameworks have been employed,
service definition and or specific regulations.
Given the various flavors of VoIP services, properly
defining the services within the context of respective
markets brings clarity to the market.
This allows for common understanding of the various
products and the development of service models that fit the market
Clear product definition facilitates the development of more effective
regulations that take into consideration country specific circumstances such as,
level of telecoms market development, government social policy agenda and
the needs of consumers.
SOME REGULATORY DEFINITIONS OF VoIP SERVICES MAIN CATEGORIES OF VOIP DEFINITION SOME COUNTRIES USING DEFINITION *QUALITY of SERVICE ( becoming less relevant) Japan, India FUNCTIONALITY (This covers equipment or terminals used and or network architecture) India, Japan, Jordan, Malaysia, Spain, Israel, Saudi Arabia & Hong Kong NUMBERING SYSTEM Japan, Taiwan WHOLE OR PART PROVISION OF SERVICE OVER IP/PSTN Israel & Jordan (The ITU uses this definition) BY SERVICE USA (Views VoIP as information service) Italy (VoIP as nomadic and non nomadic services) EU (Publicly Available Telephone Services (PATS)) EU (Publicly Accessible Electronic Communication Services (PAECS)) USERS/USAGE Chile (Public or closed group of end users) Australia & Tunisia (Corporate or residential use) * Quality of service is becoming less relevant from a pure technology perspective but other factors such as directory, emergency and other special services are being used as differentiators. Countries may use several definitions, depending on the regulatory outcome they want to achieve. Source: ITU The Future of Voice; Document : FoV/04 12 January 2007; Table 1.1 Main Categories of Definitions
USA uses light touch regulations, no licensing requirements but contribution to USO required.
Sweden, Norway & Finland have linked VoIP regulations to the PSTN regulations.
Ireland has focused on customer protection issues.
Italy initially focused on nomadic vs. non-nomadic services.
Pakistan has a clear policy to reduce grey market traffic and has established a Vigilance Committee comprising reps from Government, regulator, operators and concerned agencies, to police the market.
Bangladesh’s government has created a state agency “Rapid Action Battalion” (RAB) which has shut down several illegal VoIP operations, and as a result the government has filed cases against offending companies.
Ensure that products are defined to give effect to the desired regulatory outcome.
Ensure that regulations are comprehensive and address issues such as;
Fairness and non discrimination
USO contributions, other public benefits,
Quality of service
If illegal operators cannot be substantially reduced through regulations, then an alternative consideration would be to relax regulatory restrictions on the similar services provided by licensed operators.