The Maltese regulatory authority MCA has published a document by means of which it seeks to consult all interested parties on a suitable regulatory regime applicable to Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

Updated: The consultation deadline was extended to 29 Oct 2004.

Back in Sep 2002, the MCA already published a consultation paper entitled “VoIP: Systems, Services & Regulation”. This document proposed a regulatory view on packet switched voice services in the context of the legislation valid at that time.

In Dec 2002, the MCA issued a publication titled “Packet Switched Voice Services - Consultation Report & Authorisation Guidelines” wherein guidelines were issued in order to be able to determine whether a packet based voice service was to be considered a data/Internet application or a telephony service. VoIP services, regulated as Internet applications in line with the published guidelines, have proven to be extremely popular in Malta.

As a consequence of Malta’s accession to the European Union (EU) on 1 May 2004, Maltese electronic communications legislation is being reformed, in order be in accordance with the new EU regulatory framework for electronic communications. The consultation document now aims to reposition the regulations regarding VoIP, in order to fit within this new framework.

The 56-page consultation document contains, amongst others, sections on the (possible) regulation of undertakings providing VoIP services (regulatory classifications and a section on PATS – broad versus narrow views).

The key issues regarding VoIP services are, according to MCA, interconnection, access to emergency services, lawful interception and data retention, consumer education and protection, numbering and universal service provision and funding. A separate chapter is dedicated to the rights and obligations of undertakings providing VoIP services.

The full text (in English) of the MCA consultation document can be accessed by clicking here.