If you are a user of Vonage, say goodbye to those super cheap calls. The Public Utilities Commission today finally announced their decision on the voice over internet protocol (VoIP). This afternoon the PUC's Executive Chairman Dr. Gilly Canton announced that after two months of consultations and research the PUC has decided to permit the use of some VoIP technology in Belize. That means that BTL cannot block you from talking free online using Skype, MSN messenger, Yahoo Talk, or Google Talk or other free call services. But BTL can block you from using services such as Vonage, which require that users have a paying account, assign them a telephone number and give them a special telephone device.
So the bottom line is that some services are permitted, while others are not. But those U.S. based service which have been banned, can now be provided by local companies. PUC Chair Dr. Gilly Canton explains.
Dr. Gilly Canton,
"Services that are self provided where you don't have a publicly available telephone number are services that don't require a license. Therefore somebody, for example if you are on a computer and you download a software and you use that software to communicate with another user somewhere else, that is not something that requires a license and that should be allowed to proceed.
What we're saying now is that another type of service that might be, we always use in Belize as a reference the Vonage type of service where somebody has a phone that has a number assigned to them. That service should really be licensed in Belize. The law says that any service provider has to be licensed in Belize to be able to provide that service in Belize. So in category three we are saying you need a license and therefore you should not be able to get that service in Belize.
Vonage use in Belize at this point in time is not licensed in Belize and if you think about it is not really bringing that much benefit to Belize. They don't have a presence in Belize. There is no people employed in Belize. There is no taxes being paid. There is no license fees being paid. There is no contribution to the community and social development of Belize directly while a simpler type of service can be offered in Belize by a licensed service providers and what we're saying is that now we will be giving them the ability to license service providers, even other than BTL and Speednet, to provide that service."
The PUC notes that in their contract with customers BTL restricts the use of voice over internet technology. You can find a link to the PUC's decision on their website.