Changes to be made to telecoms bill

Government has stated its intention to make some changes to the Telecommunications Bill to allow for there to be a way in which telecom providers can choose what comes in and goes out at any given hour.

The move is believed to be aimed at clamping down on services like Viber, and the increasingly popular WhatsApp.

According to Minister of Communication, Works, Physical Development, Public Utilities and ICT, Gregory Bowen, this can only be done if the telecom providers in Grenada gain some kind of control on the Over the Top Services (OTTs).

Speaking to reporters at Tuesday’s weekly post-Cabinet press briefing, the senior government minister noted that the Eastern Caribbean Telecommunications Authority has indicated that those services should not be controlled but the bill can be revised to allow for telecom providers to gain funds from OTTs.

“… ECTEL is very clear that it should not be controlled; however, since the Internet came, voice is no longer the revenue owners for these providers – it is now data and they are losing rapidly. So, we want to ensure that we give them the authority to go to whatsApp and Viber and so on and see if they can get some funds from them”, he said.

“…The more they can get from these external large institutions, the less they would have to charge you for the internet. So, we’re ensuring that the act provides for this and at the same time if you have to discriminate, the minister and ECTEL must control the discrimination – discriminate means that we will allow certain things to flow before the next but education is critical”, he added.

The minister is confident that the move augurs well for schools and the field of medicine as the government develops in technology.

He said: “…If schools are online, you don’t want movies come in and take up that package, they must be able to tell the movies stay out for these hours. So, if you’re downloading movies, you might see that buffering but not the lecturer talking to the students in the school.

“We’re moving to surgery that can be controlled in Jamaica by UWI and robotics in Grenada…so if you have a patient on the table with his chest open, you don’t want anything coming in to distract or to take away from the professors sitting in Jamaica and from the doctors in Grenada.

This, according to Minister Bowen is what can be called “discrimination” in the sector.

“So, they will be able to block movies, block everything else so that you would be able to get the stream until the surgery is over. That is what you call discriminate but pure net neutrality says that the provider should not be able to control what comes and what goes – that could cause problems as they say.

“…If we cannot block you to make sure that education gets priority at this period or the surgery gets priority then this could be dismal and so we’re revising the laws just to ensure that the providers get these necessary conveniences.

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