“I could leak you legal correspondence showing what threats were made after Netspeak was launched… But I would lose my job.”
I won’t say how I am familiar with the VoIP policy as I am under contract not to.
Just call me a consultant, and no, I do not consult for the Government C&W or any other existing Service provider in Barbados. But nonetheless, I am intimately aware of all the developments.
If You Want The Truth About VoIP, Read On
VoIP is a service that needs proper legislation, it is legislated in the US and most parts of the world (even those who began without legislation are now implementing). For instance, the US VoIP providers must now contribute to the Universal Service Fund like all other international carriers and this is just one example.
And yes, according to the old, original VoIP article it was possible to import and use an international calling VoIP device once you took it to the telecom office and registered it. Although, was this really worth it since you would first need to have a $600 personal license for telecom equipment importation?
Good luck getting it licensed without proper documentation.
Not to mention…
It is completely legal for C&W to block this service, degrade its quality or route it half way around the world with no recourse to the end-user and for a simple reason – No telecommunications “service” can be offered in Barbados without the appropriate service provider license from the local ministry.
That may not be the exact wording, but its the right point.
Many believe VoIP is encoded and set as “packets” so that makes it “data”. That is subject to the legislative position in each individual Nation. C&W already won this battle in Dominica with a ruling which stated VoIP is a “Voice” service and therefore governed by the Telecommunications Act. Reading the new VoIP policy, you may notice similar suggestions and it is clearly stated on the telecoms.gov.bb website.
Also, the final approved and published VoIP document clearly indicates that these services such as Vonage (and other international calling services) can ONLY be purchased through local RESELLERS of the international service… I.E it would be ILLEGAL to bring in your own Vonage box. But, if there was a LICENSED service provider here with an ACTIVE reseller agreement with Vonage then you could LEGALLY use the service through them.
Proper VoIP Legislation Is Necessary – And Good To Have
It’s a little hairy if you’re now beginning to follow, but the VoIP legislation in itself is good. It will mandate specific quality of service levels for those who want to offer these services and the customer will benefit. Nobody wants to dump their landline for some half-real service that only works 20% of the time – and that’s what the government is trying to avoid. You must remember that Barbados earns alot of FX from international companies and international investors – two things make us attractive, a stable economy, and stable telecomms infrastructure – if you don’t believe me do a little reading.
The good thing with this legislation is that it will force greater local participation as the cost of entry is only around 3ooK for the full service license (about 1/2 the cost of other international/domestic licenses). What on the other hand will kill it, is C&W forcing those wishing to interconnect to purchase legacy equipment (probably double the cost of all your VoIP infrastructure combined) and pay another 400K+ in interconnect fees alone (these are numbers, not from C&W, but that have been reported to me).
This is where cost justification becomes a problem. The other issues of course remain to be the staggering costs of Bandwidth. Just this week i received quotes for 1.5mbps from leading dedicated internet access vendors (the type of service you need to be a real service provider managing QoS as stipulated in the licenses) at around 8 to 9 thousand Barbados per month (or approximately 100K per annum). And well, no reputable carrier is going to accept a compression codec below g729a, if which using, you can compress the Voice enough for maybe passing only 30-40 (absolute Max) simultaneous calls… So you’ll need a few of those 100K puppies to pass your international traffic – and thats what you want VoIP for right?
But… Add it all together and between the VoIP license, the interconnection fees, purchasing legacy equipment and half a million dollars a year worth of internet… Hrm. You’re probably selling your VoIP more expensive than existing land line services. And that’s not a business model that works.
Basically, the VoIP policy draft itself is good.
But the Government needs to do more to police the Interconnect policies, and also mandate the incumbents to allow interconnects on IP Platforms, not just old, useless legacy equipment thats large enough to command a mini data center (more costs) and which are overly expensive and provide a cost-of-entry barrier to local entrepreneurs .
This is just like the Microsoft Monopoly – “On the outside we’re always preaching interoperability, on the inside the engineers are working on the opposite”
Who’s to blame? C&W or the Gov’t? Well..
Here is a little secret…
Before C&W launched Netspeak, all VoIP was illegal – with or without an International license. Of course, it could just be a major “coincidence” that the update to the telecoms website clarifying who could legally provide VoIP came just 2 weeks after C&W launched their netspeak (December 19 2005). See below:
“Is Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) legal in Barbados, if so, who can legally provide VoIP?
Answer: Any holder in Barbados of a Full Domestic Licence, Full Mobile/International Licence or an International Licence may legally provide VoIP in Barbados. These licences state that the holder may use Switch or Packet Technology or any combination thereof, to develop their networks. VoIP uses packet technology.
Holders of the above licences can be found under Major Licence Holders on this website.
Updated: December 19, 2005″
I could leak you legal correspondence showing what threats were made after Netspeak was launched… But I would lose my job.
Keep in mind, the government never paid out the C&W exclusive contract, only a portion in return for them to “allow” the government to offer licenses to other carriers. This will continue for the next few years until C&W’s contract expires. At this time, C&W will lose their veto on what local services can be offered and we will see a real liberalized market.
Until such time, it will be those companies who can play smart, find loopholes and have great lawyers who will succeed. All the rest of you will be sucking your teeth and racking your brains at what appears to be an impossible method of cost justification in order to retain a competitive advantage… under this system let me tell you now the riddle is over. It’s not possible.
Our thanks to BFP reader Kyle