Sat, Jan 09, 2016 - Page 15 News List

Moroccan regulator bans Internet phone calls to aid telecoms

Reuters, RABAT

Morocco has stopped calls made through mobile Internet connections, the national regulator announced, a move that could boost voice revenue for local telecoms.

The ban is to apply to the three mobile operators in Morocco who offer Internet access for computers via USB and other mobile modems, as well as via mobile phones.

Morocco is following other countries in the region, such as Egypt and the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Protests started a few days ago on social media against the move, with local media speculating whether security controls were behind the ban.

The Telecommunications Regulatory National Agency said telecom services such as telephone calls need licenses, whether they are Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) or others.

“In addition of the losses for the telecoms national market, the free Internet voice calls do not respond to the required legal gateway,” the agency said on Thursday.

The agency had tolerated Internet voice calls for years, but the drop in call volume, mainly international calls, might explain the decision.

Morocco’s telecoms market is dominated by Maroc Telecom, majority owned by the UAE’s Etisalat, French group Orange SA’s local affiliate Medi Telecom and Wana Corporate, a subsidiary of the Moroccan royal holding firm National Investment Company.

The ban would affect the two most used applications in Morocco, Skype and WhatsApp, along with Viber and other providers of VoIP services.

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