Barbados: Regulation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP)

In 2007, after a public consultation, Barbados finalized its policy on the regulation of Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP).  This Practice Note summarizes the main features of the VoIP Policy adopted by the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Development, Telecommunications Unit.

The regulatory framework adopted by Barbados is technologically neutral in order to encourage service providers and equipment providers to innovate and to use the best technologies available.  The framework seeks to be “light-handed” and will be reviewed as VoIP technologies and services evolve.

Classes of VoIP Services

The VoIP regulatory framework establishes four classes of VoIP services:

Description Rights and Obligations
Class 1, Primary Line VoIP services “Service offerings providing telephony services appropriate for use as a consumer's sole, or primary, means of access to the PSTN. The service provider controls network end-to-end. Class 1 is considered a Telecommunications Service, and includes “any-to-any” dialing to and from Barbados PSTN numbers.”

Interconnection to Barbados PSTN;

Quality of Service Standards;

Last Mile Transport – Service Provider Supplies;

Disclosure to Customers;

FAX and Modem Support;

Core Network Usable During Power-failures;

Barbados PSTN Numbering;

Public Emergency Call Services;

Directory Inquiry Services;

Number Portability;

Universal Service; and

Indirect/Equal Access.
Class 2, Secondary Line VoIP services

“Class 2 VoIP Services are Barbados facilities based, but without the Service Provider delivering the customer-end of the transport. The customer may “bring their own bandwidth”. Thus, this class of service is not appropriate as a customer's primary phone connection.

“Class 2 is considered an information service, and may, but does not have to, include “any-to-any” dialing to and from Barbados PSTN numbers.”

Interconnection to Barbados PSTN and Internet;

Last Mile Transport – Customer Provided;

Quality of Service Standards;

Disclosure to Customers;

Barbados PSTN Numbering; and

Indirect/Equal Access.

Class 3, Internet Telephony VoIP Services

“Class 3 VoIP Services may or may not be Barbados-facilities based, and covers all domestic providers and resellers of VoIP Telephony Services not using Barbados Numbering, and without local Interconnection to the Barbados PSTN. Class 3 is considered an information service, and does not include “any-to-any” dialling to and from Barbados PSTN numbers.

“This class of service is not appropriate as a customer's primary phone

connection.

“Class 3 VoIP Services Providers specifically may not interconnect with the Barbados PSTN, but may interconnect with the Barbados Internet.”
Disclosure to customers.
Class 4, Peer-2-Peer (P2P) VoIP Services

“P2P VoIP Services involve connections between two or more devices entirely over one or more networks, possibly including the Internet, and thus are entirely independent of the Barbados PSTN. P2P is completely unregulated.

“This class of service is not appropriate as a customer's primary phone connection.”

None

Licensing and registration

Pursuant to the VoIP regulatory framework, class 1 and 2 services can only be provided by companies that are registered and licensed in Barbados.  This requirement ensures that service providers comply with local consumer protection legislation.  Class 1 VoIP Service Providers must be licensed as a domestic and/or international operator in Barbados. 

Class 3 VoIP Services may only be offered or resold by companies that are registered in Barbados and that hold a Value-Added Service licence.

Vendors of any classes of VoIP equipment must be registered in Barbados and must hold a valid Sellers and Dealers Licence. 

VoIP customer rights and obligations

End users of such VoIP equipment may import and use VoIP equipment and services for their own uses without a licence.  However, end users must purchase such equipment and services from appropriately licensed suppliers, including the networking services. 

Consumers may connect equipment to the local PSTN that is VoIP-enabled, but this connection must be done in manner such that illegal international bypass to third parties is not possible.  Bypass fraud is prohibited under the Barbados Telecommunications Act 2001-36. 

Customers in Barbados may enter into service agreements with providers outside of Barbados (e.g., Skype) who advertise only over the Internet.  As long as the financial transactions are settled outside of Barbados and the supplier does not advertise in Barbados, such activity is permitted.

Customers have the right to full disclosure with respect to the Quality of Service (QoS) offered by each supplier.

Certain users are specifically and explicitly permitted to use VoIP for their businesses and own uses.  These users include:

  • Commercial call centres;
  • Cyber cafes;
  • Community centres;
  • Churches; and
  • P2P service users (e.g., private networks).

Class 1 VoIP service providers have the following obligations to their customers:

  • Adherence to any Quality of Service standards applicable to VoIP services adopted by the Minister.
  • The telephony core network must be available during power failures.
  • Last mile transport: the service provider must own and provide the end-to-end connectivity used in the provisioning of VoIP services to the customer.
  • Disclosure: customers must be provided with a clear and complete description of the services on offer, including a description of any and all limitations of the Service compared with a tradition PSTN offering and including information about the following:
    • Service Availability during power failures;
    • IP and PSTN networks used, and ownership of same;
    • Average and worst-case latency and jitter metrics;
    • Compression “CODECS” used;
    • Availability of Emergency Services;
    • Availability of Directory Assistance;
    • Availability of Operator Assistance; and
    • Appropriateness for FAX machines and computer modems.
  • Provision of fax and modem support upon request by the customer.
  • Customers must be advised that their equipment will not function without customer-provided power back-up equipment.
  • Provision of access to the police (211), fire department (311), and ambulance service (511) free of charge.
  • Provision of directory inquiry services upon request to any customer of the Licensee and provision of access to directory inquiry services of the Licensee’s customers with respect to the subscribers of other licensees.

Class 2 VoIP service providers have the following obligations to their customers:

  • Adherence to any Quality of Service standards applicable to VoIP services adopted by the Minister.
  • Last mile transport: the service provider may provide network connectivity to the customer or the customer may “bring their own bandwidth”.
  • Disclosure: customers must be provided with a clear and complete description of the services on offer, including a description of any and all limitations of the Service compared with a tradition PSTN offering and including information about the following:
    • Service Availability during power failures;
    • IP and PSTN networks used, and ownership of same;
    • Average and worst-case latency and jitter metrics;
    • Compression “CODECS” used;
    • Availability of Emergency Services;
    • Availability of Directory Assistance;
    • Availability of Operator Assistance; and
    • Appropriateness for FAX machines and computer modems.
  • The provision of fax and modem support to customers is optional.

  • Customers must be advised that their equipment will not function without customer-provided power back-up equipment.

  • Customers must be advised if emergency services are not available.

Class 3 VoIP service providers have the following obligations to their customers:

  • No last mile transport requirements, as the customer always provides its own bandwidth in the case of Class 3 VoIP services.
  • Disclosure: customers must be provided with a clear and complete description of the services on offer, including a description of any and all limitations of the Service compared with a tradition PSTN offering and including information about the following:
    • Service Availability during power failures;
    • IP and PSTN networks used, and ownership of same;
    • Average and worst-case latency and jitter metrics;
    • Compression “CODECS” used;
    • Availability of Emergency Services;
    • Availability of Directory Assistance;
    • Availability of Operator Assistance; and
    • Appropriateness for FAX machines and computer modems.
  • The provision of fax and modem support to customers is optional.

  • Customers must be advised that their equipment will not function without customer-provided power back-up equipment.

  • Customers must be advised if emergency services are not available.

Interconnection and PSTN

The terms and conditions of Class 1 and Class 2 VoIP Service Licences permit and obligate licensees to enter into commercial agreements for PSTN and Internet interconnections with existing providers.  The Barbados Fair Trading Commission regulates PSTN interconnection.  Negotiations for interconnections must be conducted in good faith.  Contractual provisions that restrict the retail or wholesale resale of services are not permitted.

Numbering resources

Class 1 and Class 2 VoIP Service Providers are eligible to apply for and to receive numbering resources.

Universal service fund

The Minister may require VoIP service providers to contribute to the Universal Services Fund.

Fees

The Minister may set licence fees.

Related Materials

Barbados Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) Policy

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