My Thoughts on Technology and Jamaica: Digicel blocks VoIP Services Viber, Nimbuzz in Haiti - Lost International Calling Revenue as WhatsApp rises

Monday, June 30, 2014

Digicel blocks VoIP Services Viber, Nimbuzz in Haiti - Lost International Calling Revenue as WhatsApp rises

“This is currently the case only for Haiti but we are actively considering our options in other countries.  It's important to point out that VoIP services by their nature are network intensive and given priority in terms of delivery across the network - which in turn means that other customers' browsing will be impacted”

Head of Communications for the Digicel Group, Antonia Graham during an interview with the Jamaica Gleaner

It was only a matter of time as I’ve long suspected. Telecom Provider Digicel has blocked VoIP Services Viber and Nimbuzz in Haiti as reported in “Digicel mulls banning Viber, other 'unlicensed' VoIP services in Jamaica”, Published Sunday June 29, 2014 by Richard Browne, Business Reporter, The Jamaica Gleaner.

Now they’ve blocked all VoIP Apps in Jamaica on all smartphones as reported in “Digicel blocks unlicensed VOIP services”, published Sun June 29, 2014, RJR News and carried exclusively on Kelroy's blog article on Geezam entitled “Digicel blocks “unlicensed” Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services”.

According to Head of Communications for the Digicel Group, Antonia Graham in an interview with The Jamaica Gleaner, they’re activities are not paid for and they’re negatively impacting on their 4G Mobile Traffic, quote: “Unlicensed VoIP operators like Viber and Nimbuzz use Telecoms Networks to deliver their services, but they do not pay any money for the privilege”.

Digicel also claims, rather falsely, that it impacts on their Data Bandwidth based on the statement at the top of the page. This isn’t true, as VoIP Calls, just like a Voice Call, use no more than 64Kbps of Bandwidth at any given time; it’s mainly Video Calling that may Tax the Network, being as more Bandwidth is needed to carry BOTH Voice and Video simultaneously.

Plus, it’s good to note that they’d started upgrades to their Network in anticipation of the 4G LTE Network launch ion the next 18 months counting from April 2014 as described in my blog article entitled “Digicel to invest US$85 million in 4G LTE Network - 25% of Total revenue from ICT as 4G LTE Investments designed to weather the coming Summer WhatsApp Storm”.

So they should be able to handle the Traffic, as they have the Bandwidth to handle the additional traffic. So this reason isn’t true. It rather has to do with bypass. They have taken action to protect their revenue stream from lucrative International calling to USA, Canada and the UK.

Digicel losing International Calling Revenue – Set to get worse once WhatsApp comes onto the Scene

However, the real reason is that they’re losing revenue from International Calling as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to set up an International Calling Plan for Digicel or LIME Prepaid and Postpaid”. Thus Telecom Provider Digicel invoked the section of the newly minted Telecommunications Act of 2012 and took action to protect this lucrative revenue base.

Especially as it provides the money that allows them to pay the mandatory Tax Levy to USF (Universal Service Fund) that’s used to fund Community Access Points) for Internet Access as stated in “Phone companies, beware!”, published Monday, April 28, 2014, The Jamaica Observer.

Once you have any of these apps, WhatsApp or even the Free Calls with Magicjack App as described in my blog article entitled “How to make Free USA and Canada Calls with Free Calls with Magicjack - MagicJack Stock buoyed by the coming of WhatsApp to VoIP Calling to Mobile and Landlines”, you can effectively bypass Telecom Provider Digicel Voice Network by avoiding having to purchase an International Calling Plan and make US and Canada Calls like crazy.

The only persons who’d use International Calling Plans from Telecom Provider Digicel would be persons calling countries outside these two, such as England. Jamaicans are notorious for not wanting to pay for International Calling, even if it’s just a few cents per minute or costs US$19.99 per year for a Calling Subscription using their PayPal Account, CIBC VISA Debit Card or Scotia VISA Debit Card as described in my Geezam blog article entitled “How to use Scotia VISA Debit Card Online”.

Worse, both Telecom Provider have an even more serious problem; Inbound International Calling Bypass being perpetrated by Americans who possess Mobile phones that have Digicel or LIME SIM (Subscriber Identification Module) as described in my blog article entitled “How US$1 Billion is lost from the USF and Telecoms Tax via Inbound International Calling Bypass - LIME, Digicel and Network Engineer French Connection”.

So with improvements to their Backhaul Network coming, it would suggest that they’d be in a position handle the Traffic, now if not in the next 18 months. Ditto for Haiti and other Territories that Digicel operates in the Caribbean. After all, Telecom Provider LIME charges only JA$1.99 to call any UK, Canada and UK landline. And with WhatsApp coming by the end of June 2014 as described in my blog article entitled “WhatsApp VoIP Calling in Second Quarter of 2014 - WhatsApp kills International Calling at the Advent of Facetime-eqsue Premium Video VoIP Calling on smartphones”, they won’t have a choice either way.

Most likely this measure is temporary, as they’ll have to eventually give them [VoIP Operators] free reign. Otherwise, customers will start to defect to the other Networks in their respective territories where they’ve banned these VoIP Calling Apps, especially as 4G LTE should allow persons more bandwidth in the first place to mitigate against these “Unlicensed VoIP operators”!

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