Caribbean online journal Nation News reports that Embert Charles, the managing director of regional industry regulator the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority (ECTEL), has issued a directive to all telcos in ECTEL member states – Grenada, St Vincent & the Grenadines, St Lucia and Dominica – ordering them to stop blocking access to over-the-top (OTT) services such as WhatsApp. Responding to local press reports claiming that OTT services were being illegally blocked, Mr Charles said: ‘ECTEL has been advised that a wide range of stakeholders, including policy makers, are concerned over these reports,’ going on to point out: ‘ECTEL is therefore appealing to all services providers operating within its members 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 23 September 2013 and 4 November 2013.’
The blocking or restricting of a user’s communications without their consent is, he says, illegal and constitutes a breach of the operator’s licence terms. ‘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,’ he said.