A BLOCKADE of Internet-calling services, or VoIP, by local telecoms could impact the development of entrepreneurial companies in the technology sector and other services, sector interests say.
The blockade, however, may be a moot point as the voice service providers appear to have the technical capacity to overcome the blocks.
At first, it appeared that the block was firm, as the Viber service continued to be unavailable for Digicel customers, with users getting a message reading: "Viber service is currently unavailable or being blocked. Please try again later. Place a regular call instead."
But later in the week that appeared to no longer be the case, with several users telling The Gleaner that they were having no problems making or receiving Viber calls on the Digicel network.
It also appears that the publicity has resulted in more users, not less, accessing Viber's service.
"It looks like we are seeing a spike in voice usage in
It could curtail long-distance education, and add to the cost of operations for small and medium enterprise sectors, while stifling creativity, he says.
SMEs often use
'1 tend to use it a lot for business calls," Haughton said.
The move would also negatively affect distance-learning courses, where students often have meetings with their tutors on
Digicel has called the unlicensed services 'parasites', which burden its network and impact the quality of the service it delivers to its own customers.
Last week, tech entrepreneur and angel investor JJ Geewax said he would be inclined to bypass
The American, who is setting up an angel investor group and has invested in four Jamaican tech start-ups, says he will continue to invest in
Geewax argued that the rationale used by the telecoms against VoIP providers could be used against other internet services.
A mobile payment start-up, which he is investing in, and which could end up competing against a similar Digicel service "could be blocked by Digicel," he said. "That doesn't seem right to me."
Geewax, who was speaking at the annual PSOJ/JMMB economic forum in
Haughton, meantime, says technology services like VoIP tend to facilitate other forms of business activities.
"We can't just grow dasheen and coco. You've got to allow the creative juices to flow," he said. "If you kill that you are killing commerce."
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