Caribbean mobile provider Digicel yesterday agreed to allow its customers to access popular "free calls" applications Viber, Tango and Nimbuzz once again after the Telecommunications Authority of T&T (TATT) started an investigation into complaints made about Digicel's action.
In a release yesterday, Digicel said it made the decision after TATT confirmed it would investigate the company's own complaint about the use of number-based VoIP applications in the country.
It added: "Digicel has been engaged by the authority and has sought to relay its concerns relating to the use of these applications and the attendant impact they have on consumers in T&T.
"Digicel shall continue to engage with the authority and very much welcomes the opportunity that has been provided to communicate its position and concerns."
Pointing out that TATT had asked that Digicel continue to provide the VoIP products to its customers while the investigation was going on, the company said:
"Digicel is willing, in light of the authority's commitment to carefully review these matters in consultation with the industry, to accede, effective July 9, to the authority's request in the interim period whilst preserving its rights in relation to the matter generally."
In its own release yesterday, TATT confirmed it had started an investigation into complaints related to the alleged blocking of VoIP applications by Digicel.
"At this time, the authority has engaged Digicel and acknowledges the constructive manner of Digicel's response to date.
"Whilst the investigative process is ongoing, the authority will discuss the fundamental issues relating to the use of number-based VoIP applications. These issues certainly require further investigation and detailed consideration on the part of the authority."
It added that it had asked Digicel to reconsider its decision to block the service because it believed all consumers should be treated equally in the interim.
"Whilst the authority has made no determination or decision in the matter, we believe that the maintenance of the provision of these services in the interim period would be in the best interest of all stakeholders and will allow the authority time to engage in this process in a calm and constructive manner," it said.
Digicel had barred customers' access to the services over the weekend, saying "unlicensed VoIP operators, like Viber and Nimbuzz, use telecoms networks to deliver their services but they do not pay any money for the privilege.
"This unauthorised activity puts enormous pressures on bandwidth, which means customers' data usage experience is negatively impacted as a result.
"As such, Digicel has been forced to take firm action to prevent this parasitic activity," Digicel's communication manager Penny Gomez had told the Sunday Guardian.
She said while Digicel "invested millions in its network and business," unlicensed VoIP reaped the benefits with no capital investment.
"The situation is untenable on a medium-to-long-term basis and so we are taking a stand," she added.