Everything is now ready for the licensing of Octroi as an internet telephony provider. Public testing will begin in July. The regulator ICTA has said that its wishes to licence Octroi by the end of July at the latest. Under its new licensing structure there are four categories for telecoms, one of which is for internet telephony. This amendment will be gazetted very soon by the Government.

The company Paging Services was stopped from offering internet telephony by a court order in a judgement from Judge Bushan Domah. In order to avoid this sort of case in the future, ITCA is introducing the new category of licence. The new licence will cost R1 million annually. Critics - who include Paging Services - say that the current ISP licence (R50,000 a year) would be perfectly adequate.

"The new licence is technology neutral. It is essentially a commercial proposition...internet telephony is a form of long-distance calling," said an ICTA spokesperson. 

The new licence category obviously has implications for the incumbent Mauritius Telecom. Under the current interconnection arrangements it is bound to lose traffic to new entrants. It is putting the argument that its service will be of a better quality to internet telephony and therefore will continue to be extremely attractive to the business sector.