Conatel wants to regulate internet services, magicJack, Skype

The government of Haiti (GOH) is concerned about the growing popularity of two Internet services that permit consumers to make calls overseas for very affordable or no rates at all. The GOH claims the services are causing the GOH to lose revenues.


One of the services, magicJack, is a device that uses the USB port of a computer and a landline phone jack to place unlimited calls to Canada and the U.S. The technology is called VoIP, which means Voiceover Internet Protocol. The other service, Skype (also VoIP technology), uses a computer microphone, webcam, and instant messaging to place calls worldwide. If calls are placed to another user, who also has Skype installed on their computer, the calls are free.

Jean Marie Guillaume, Director of National Council of Telecommunications, is worried about the excessive use of the Internet to make international calls, because Haiti's economy is being adversely affected by it. He points to telephone records that show 170 million minutes of calling time was made in 2007, but that number has fallen significantly, down by 40 million minutes in 2011.

What is happening, Guillaume explains, is the cost of calls is being remitted to businesses outside of Haiti, which slows the nation's economic growth. Specifically, the concern is that magicJack and Skype calls could be affecting the pace at which the GOH can amass monies to actualize social programs. Most affected by gray calls is the Free and Compulsory Universal Education Program.

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