Digicel, history and the law

Wed, Jul 23, 2014, 01:40

Sirs, – I refer to the article “Denis O’Brien ‘is on the wrong side of history’, says Viber chief” written by Mark Paul (Business This Week, July 18th). Unfortunately, your piece seems to focus upon the misleading and self-serving version of events presently being advanced on Viber’s behalf. In so doing, some fundamental facts are omitted and thus the piece lacks balance.

Viber entered into a written agreement with Digicel, but is now refusing to pay for the services provided under that agreement. The article also fails to highlight that it is illegal in many markets in the Caribbean (most notably in Jamaica and Haiti) to deliberately circumvent the facilities of licensed network operators.

Indeed, in many of these markets, a very significant portion of the revenue earned from international incoming traffic is passed to local governments in the form of Universal Service Funds and other government-imposed levies. This bypass deliberately deprives both licenced operators and governments of significant revenues whilst earning windfall sums for parties that have invested nothing in the region but who seek to make a quick buck on the back of significant capital investment made by others.

The issue is not about being on the wrong side of history; it is about being on the right side of the law. Mr Paul also fails to inform your readers that Digicel’s primary competitor in the region, Cable and Wireless, has taken similar action and has also blocked certain VoIP operators in the region, including Viber. – Yours, etc,

CONOR CLARKE,

Director of International

Business,

Digicel Group Limited,

Kingston,

Jamaica