TTCS, ISOC-TT and IEEE-TT Joint Statement on Digicel Trinidad and Tobago’s ban on VOIP Services

The following is a press release of the joint statement from
the Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society,
the Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter and
the IEEE Trinidad and Tobago Section on
Digicel’s Trinidad and Tobago’s  ban on Voice over IP services.

PDF version of press release:

A longer version of the statement can be viewed at TTCS-ISOC-TT-IEEE-TT-response-to-Digicels-ban-on-VOIP-services or at https://docs.google.com/a/ttcsweb.org/document/d/13pfWE4S6Rr3IwSntEFRdawpxdbnHXrSgpzQ2wcfp3YU/edit


Joint Statement from the
Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society,
Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter &
IEEE Trinidad and Tobago Section

on Digicel Trinidad and Tobago’s ban on VOIP Services

Summary of Issue

On the 5th July, 2014, Digicel (Trinidad and Tobago) announced  that it will be blocking access to Voice over IP (VoIP) applications it considers to be  ‘unlicensed’ or “unauthorized” on  its “4G” service. The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS),
the Internet Society Trinidad and Tobago Chapter (ISOC-TT) and the IEEE Trinidad and Tobago Section (IEEE-TT) consider this to be a grave error, and wish to make a public statement on this matter,  both from a technical perspective and a social one.

 

Our position

It is the position of the TTCS, ISOC-TT and IEEE-TT that this move is a violation of the concept of “Network Neutrality” as defined by Wu. We are of the firm belief that this move puts us, as Internet users, on a slippery slope, as it may well pave the way for the banning of  other important Internet services for learning, innovation and productivity which use much more bandwidth.

Given that customers are paying for Internet data service, it is not accurate for Digicel to state that VoIP services amount to “illegal bypass activity”. Digicel is effectively asking that both consumers and suppliers pay for the same service.

While we understand the need to ensure the integrity of their service, from a technical perspective, there is no reason to single out VoIP connections as a large consumer of bandwidth that can reduce the Quality of Service enjoyed by other customers as the throughput for a VoIP connection is very small (on the order of 20kbps). Compared to services such as YouTube, Netflix or even browsing media-rich web pages (on the order of hundreds of kbps), throughput required by VoIP applications is negligible. Therefore, the argument that services such as VoIP has a significant impact on other data services is inaccurate (unless the number of  VoIP users is very very much greater than the number of non-VoIP users).

The reasoning given by Digicel TT for the move that “VOIP services (are) putting enormous pressures on bandwidth – and customers’ data usage experience (is) being negatively impacted” is also misleading since it is not technically possible for Digicel to give priority to VoIP traffic on their current data  network. In their current system,  VoIP traffic is treated just as any other data service.

We can only conclude, therefore, that the reason for the proposed ban is to stop the loss of  revenue from traditional circuit switched voice services rather than any move to protect the integrity of its data service to customers.

It is important that Internet service providers are committed to the concept of Network Neutrality in Trinidad and Tobago so as to encourage innovation and avoid the potential of censorship. Digicel should certainly backtrack on this move, in the interest of national development. The  Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) should engage all stakeholders in a broader discussion with respect to how we should move forward on the issue of Network Neutrality. TATT should also strive towards making a more competitive environment by accelerating the introduction of a 3rd service provider as well as accelerate the long promised implementation of Number Portability to promote the competitiveness in the telecommunications space that would prevent similar anti-consumer, anti-innovation and anti-economic growth policies.


 

The Cybercrime Bill 2014

The Cybercrime Bill was introduced in the Senate by the Minister of National Security Gary Griffith on March 21 2014. The Bill seeks “to provide for the creation of offences related to cybercrime and related matters” and if passed would repeal the Computer Misuse Act 2000

The offences related to cybercrime and related matters includes

  • illegal access to a computer system
  • Illegally remaining in a computer system
  • Illegal interception of subscriber or traffic data
  • Illegal data interference
  • Illegal acquisition of data
  • possession and distribution of devices that is designed or adapted for the purpose of committing an offence under this Act or disclosure of password or access codes
  • Unauthorised receiving or granting of access to computer data
  • forgery of computer data and distribution of forged data
  • Computer-related fraud
  • Identity-related offences
  • child pornography
  • using computers to set up a meeting with a child for the purpose of abusing the child.
  • the offence of violating a person’s  privacy by capturing and sharing pictures or videos of a person’s private area without his consent.
  • relaying of multiple email messages with the intent to deceive as to the origin of the message
  • the offence of harassment through the use of electronic means with the intent to cause emotional distress.
  • criminalising the act of sending multiple electronic mail messages that are unsolicited and which causes harm to a person or damage to a computer.

The Bill lapsed with the end of the Parliament session on July 30 2014.

smarTT National ICT Plan 2014-2018 (2013)

Cover of the National ICT Plan "smarTT" 2014-2018
Cover of the National ICT Plan “smarTT” 2014-2018

On November 2013, the Trinidad and Tobago Cabinet approved the National Information and Communications Technology (ICT) Plan 2014-2018, called “smarTT” after the consultations in 2012

Read/View smarTT National ICT plan 2014-2018 (PDF ; 8.2MB ; 158 pages)

smarTT comprises five (5) thematic areas, nineteen (19) key imperatives, and fifty-six (56) programmes, along with accompanying high level activities.

Draft Policy Document and Proposed Amendments to the Telecommunications Act (2013)

On May 6, 2013, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Trinidad and Tobago via the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) posted two documents for public comment. They are the:

The submission of comments was June 3 2013 but this deadline was extended to Tuesday 09 July 2013.

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) submitted its comments on the draft policy for (and proposed amendments to) the Telecommunications Act, using the comment submission form posted on TATT’s website:

 

TTCS Draft comments on draft policy for (and proposed amendments to) the Telecommunications Act of #Trinidad and #Tobago

On May 6, 2013, the Ministry of Science and Technology of Trinidad and Tobago via the Telecommunications Authority of Trinidad and Tobago (TATT) posted two documents for public comment. They are the:

The submission of comments was June 3 2013 but this deadline was extended to Tuesday 09 July 2013.

The Trinidad and Tobago Computer Society (TTCS) has posted its draft comments on the draft policy for (and proposed amendments to) the Telecommunications Act, using the comment submission form posted on TATT’s website:

Your comments and feedback are welcomed before any comments are formally submitted to TATT.