Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Viber CEO: Digicel block illegal

VIBER, one of the VoIP apps blocked by Irish telecom provider Digicel, said yesterday the move would be considered illegal in most countries.

In a response to TV6 yesterday on Digicel’s decision to block the apps, which included Tango, Nimbuzz and Fring, Viber CEO Talmon Marco said: “They are smoking!”

In a later statement, Marco said Digicel owed his company money and said of Digicel CEO Denis O’Brien: “Mr. O’Brien is on the wrong side of history. His arguments are a decade old. Most carriers around the world have come to realise that users want and expect the advanced messaging, voice and video services offered by Viber and its competitors.

“Increasingly, users want just an Internet connection from the carrier. It’s called being a utility. In many countries, under current legislation, Mr O’Brien’s net censorship will be considered illegal.”

Digicel stated Friday that it was no longer prepared to facilitate users who refuse completely to pay for calls and messages, which are possible through the blocked apps.

Digicel customers were issued a text message from the company advising that some third party VoIP apps are no longer available.

In a media release, Digicel claimed Viber, through an interconnect arrangement, owes a substantial amount of money.

Digicel said while an invoice has been issued, Viber has refused to pay the amount due and has left Digicel with no choice but to stop offering service, until the invoice is paid.

Digicel is calling on the blocked companies to pay their outstanding invoices and said if the companies agree to do so, it will not hesitate to allow customers to once again access the apps.

In the meantime, Telecommunications Services of Trinidad and Tobago (TSTT) yesterday declined comment on Digicel’s decision and said its policy on VoIP use via its mobile network dictates that customers be provided with a conduit to voice and data services.

“Customers pay us a subscription fee for this access and once customers have bought data services from bmobile, customers determine how they wish to use their data,” TSTT told TV6.

“VoIP essentially is data on the mobile network, much like e-mail, YouTube, social media or downloading apps and games. Each local provider must therefore decide, based on what it knows of the capabilities of its network, how to treat with customers using VoIP,” TSTT stated.