My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: MNP and VOIP: a win-win situation for Telecoms Providers

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Wednesday, March 24, 2010

MNP and VOIP: a win-win situation for Telecoms Providers


The USA has mandatory registration via the use of Social Security Numbers, Driver’s license or passports, a process simplified by merely using your Credit Card to do identity verification during mobile smart phones purchases on two (2) year Contracts Plans, but not on Prepaid mobile phones (equivalent to Postpaid in Jamaica).

Oweing to the popularity of Prepaid as opposed to two (2) year Contracts Plans as reported in the articles “Prepaid Wireless outpaces contract services”, published April 5, 2010 3:35 PM PDT CNET News - Signal Strength by Marguerite Reardon and stated in the article “Smart phones come to prepaid Wireless market”, published May 19, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - Signal Strength, (http://www.cnet.com) it creates a potential situation where customer in the USA can communicate internationally but no one is able to determine for certain who is using which phone.

The Americans have now seen the light as after pushing for mandatory warrantees tracking as stated in the article "Feds push for tracking cell phones", published February 11, 2010 4:00 AM PST by Declan McCullagh, CNET News - Politics and Law, (http://www.cnet.com) on all mobile phones on the basis of the lack of privacy of customer information on Telecom Provider Databases, for which they can expect no reasonable level of privacy as the only thing stopping the authorities is the Telecom Provider’s policies on the disclosure of this information, The Barak Obama Administration has finally gotten their unicorn.

The United States of America has now caught MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information) and has realized after the failed bombing plot in New York Time Square  by alleged bomb plotter, Faisal Shahzad as stated in the article “US lawmakers target pre-paid cell phone anonymity”, published Wednesday 26-05-2010, Yahoo! News, AFP.

As in Jamaica, where this concept originated and is going the rounds on the verandas and patios of the Upper St. Andrew people in their ivory towers complaining about human rights despite the level of crime, it is felt that the registration of Pre-Paid mobile phones, a more flexible equivalent to our PostPaid phones in Jamaica, were too easily purchased. They required no identification and no CreditCard checks and thus legislation on the Pre-Paid Mobile Phone industry was long overdue. Democratic Senator Chuck Schumer was quoted as saying “this proposal is overdue because for years terrorists, drug kingpins and gang members have stayed one step ahead of the law by using prepaid phones that are hard to trace”

MNP (Mobile Number Portability) and the intended MRSI (Mandatory Registration of Subscriber Information) as articulated by Senator Dwight Nelson, Minister of National Security as stated in the article “CLARO Backs Cell Phone Tracking Plan; Digicel, LIME in Wait-And-See Mode”, published Sunday May 16, 2010 by Mark Titus, Business Reporter, the Sunday Gleaner (http://www.jamaica-gleaner.com) as before the United States of America caught the religion of MRSI for their Prepaid phones, thus it is safe to say that the Unite States of America is again copying the Government of Jamaica, no doubt reading even John Public emails!!

Good to note that the government of Jamaica is actually copying the Government of Mexico who use the CURP to register Unregistered Mobile Phones, Phone Instruments (mobile, fixed line mobile, landline or Wired /Wireless modems) IMEI and SIM Cards (mobile, fixed line mobile, landline or Wired /Wireless modems) IMSI to put a damper on organize crime as suggested in the Reuters report that as mentioned in the news report by CNET Loaded aired April 12 2010 by Natalie Del Conte, CNET News (CBS) (www.cnet.com) and confirmed by the article “Mexico may shut down 25.9 million Cell phones which haven't joined Registry”, published April 11, 2010 - 11:45pm by MacRonin, (http://www.privacydigest.com).

The jury is still out on the success of this initiative by the Government of Mexico, but it certainly made enough headlines to have the Government of Jamaica and the Government of the United States of America catch the MRSI and MNP fever.

In Jamaica, it is a topic that is not only of interest to customers in terms of the reduction of the cost of purchasing mobile phones and the eventual introduction of Cross Network Flat Rate Calling, but it is also of interest to the Telecoms Providers.

It could finally be the unifying force that provides the impetus for them to tackle a problem that has bedeviled the Big Three (3) Telecoms Providers since the liberalization of the Telecoms Sector by the introduction of the Telecommunications Act of 2000: VoIP (Voice Over IP)

The Government of Egypt recently banned VoIP calls on mobile phones in Egypt due to decrease in profits of the state owned Egypt Telecom as stated in the article “Egypt bans international Internet voice calls”, Tuesday 23rd March 2010 by AFP, Yahoo! News (http://news.yahoo.com).

This rather heavy handed approach by the National Telecom Regulatory Authority, which is the equivalent of our OUR (Office of Utilities Regulation) and SMA (Spectrum Management Authority) combined is what most Telecoms Providers wish they could hear from Jamaican Telecoms Regulators.

Especially in light of the current slump in foreign calling, the bread and butter of the Telecoms Providers which is expected to occur in the current Recession environment as people begin to choose between making foreign calls on the Telecoms Providers Mobile Network and basic necessities.

This is often VoIP to bypass the Telecoms Providers Mobile Networks and make foreign calls possibly to request international money transfers to alleviate the stresses due to the sluggish economy which provides little in the way of sustenance due to the low wages, increase inflation and in some cases no employment opportunities.

This decrease is being predicated on recent advertising by Telecom Provider Digicel which rewards customers with JA$1 per every minute of calls received from abroad, indicating a possible trend in which more international calls are being terminated on Telecom Provider Digicel’s Network as opposed to international call being made from their Network, possibly due to VoIP activity by users who may have FLOW Triple Play service, LIME ADSL, LIME 3G or CLARO 3G Wireless Internet.

To date none of the Big Three (3) Telecom Providers has begun squealing about it, but rest assured, with other Telecoms Providers in the United States of America. Telecom Provider AT&T initially up in arms about Google Voice other VoIP applications such as Skype being used by Apple iPhone smart phone users to bypass their networks only to end up being forced to settle their legal action against Google and allow Google Voice to work on their Network as stated in the article “AT&T to allow VoIP iPhone apps on 3G Network”, published October 6, 2009 4:46 PM PDT by Jim Dalrymple, CNET News – Apple, (http://www.cnet.com).

This is even as Telecom Provider AT&T worries about the effect the Apple iPad will have on it Network resources as stated in the article “FCC: IPad use could further strain AT&T 3G”, published February 6, 2010 4:56 PM PST by Jim Dalrymple CNET News – Apple, (http://www.cnet.com) they will soon start squealing. One may wish to imply that these stories were really about traffic.

But it is obvious that Telecom Provider AT&T was really concerned about losing out on its international calling revenue, especially as the number of people using VoIP is increasing, especially as news of the usage patterns of 4G appear to mimic regular Broadband usage as stated in the article  Clearwire adds more subscribers, cuts losses”, published February 24, 2010 8:57 AM PST by Marguerite Reardon CNET News - Signal Strength, (http://www.cnet.com).

There is now the real possibility that as in the case with increased usage of mobile phones and the ditching of landline usage, the same thing may also be happening in the case of 4G, as seen in the case of Clearwire, with users ditching Wired Broadband for Wireless 4G as stated in the article “Can 4G Wireless take on traditional Broadband?”, published March 22, 2010 4:00 AM PDT by Marguerite Reardon, CNET News - CTIA 2010, (http://www.cnet.com).

Already, Skype has begun charging for the use of Skype over 3G Networks such as Telecom Provider AT&T as stated in the article “Skype for iPhone now support 3G, but free ride's ending”, published June 2 2010, by Ben Patterson, Yahoo! News (https://www.yahoo.com), ever since that fateful day that Telecom Provider AT&T began to cap its Data Plans on Wednesday May 2nd 2010 AD, a day that will be forever etched in the minds of many Americans.

These potential worries by Telecoms Providers in our closest influential market with regards to increased traffic, available capacity and VoIP threatening their international calling revenue should make our local Telecoms Providers realize that MNP presents itself as an opportunity to press for increased Government of Jamaica regulation in the Wired and Wireless Internet as none of the Big Three (3) have officially acknowledged their acceptance of Network Neutrality and Open Networks rules.

Thus under MNP, registration of Phone Numbers, Phone Instruments (mobile, fixed line mobile, landline or Wired /Wireless modems) IMEI and SIM Cards (mobile, fixed line mobile, landline or Wired /Wireless modems) using Government of Jamaica approved identification i.e. Voters ID, Drivers License, Passport, TRN, Birth Certificate would allow for them to jointly introduce Postpaid Plans on Data capable mobile instruments.

It would require all smartphone users to purchase a Data plan as well as the blocking of all VoIP applications be they on wires or Wireless Internet connections, which would be easy to argue to the OUR as obviously, the cost of MNP would be best offset by blocking all VoIP applications on both Wired and Wireless Internet connections as a means of guaranteeing revenue and making the cost of MNP to the customer lower in cost if not free.

This is possible provided that Telecoms Providers share ALL of their resources thus netting a windfall in increased salaries for employees and managers, increased taxable revenues to the Government of Jamaica and benefits to customers, a win-win situation for all involved.
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