Morocco lifts ban on mo­bile in­ter­net voice calls

Kuwait Times - - TECHNOLOGY -

Morocco has lifted a ban on calls made through mo­bile in­ter­net con­nec­tions, its na­tional tele­coms reg­u­la­tor said, act­ing af­ter fierce protests on so­cial me­dia against a rule in­tro­duced at the start of the year. The ban was ap­plied 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. The Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Reg­u­la­tory Na­tional Agency (ANRT) had said tele­com ser­vices such as phone calls need li­cences whether they are Voice over In­ter­net Pro­to­col (VoIP) or oth­ers.

“The de­ci­sion (to lift the ban) comes af­ter the ANRT’s eval­u­a­tion of the tele­com na­tional and in­ter­na­tional mar­kets, the le­gal con­text and tak­ing into con­sid­er­a­tion the re­quire­ments to de­velop a sec­tor that ben­e­fits cus­tomers,” the reg­u­la­tor said in a state­ment yes­ter­day. The ban af­fected the two most-used ap­pli­ca­tions in Morocco Skype and What­sApp, along with Face­book and Viber and other providers of VoIP ser­vices. Morocco’s tele­coms mar­ket is dom­i­nated by Maroc Tele­com , ma­jor­ity owned by the UAE’s Eti­salat, French group Or­ange’s lo­cal af­fil­i­ate Medi Tele­com (Medi­tel) and Wana Cor­po­rate, a sub­sidiary of the royal hold­ing SNI.

Lift­ing the ban came as the king­dom pre­pares to host the 2016 United Na­tions cli­mate change con­fer­ence and only few days af­ter the head of ANRT was sacked. ANRT had tol­er­ated in­ter­net voice calls for years but the drop in call vol­umes, mainly lu­cra­tive in­ter­na­tional calls, may have mo­ti­vated the de­ci­sion. Protests erupted on so­cial me­dia when the ban came into force in Jan­uary, with lo­cal me­dia spec­u­lat­ing whether se­cu­rity con­trols were be­hind the move. Mo­bile phone mar­ket pen­e­tra­tion is run­ning at around 140 per­cent of Morocco’s 34 mil­lion pop­u­la­tion, and the coun­try had 10 mil­lion In­ter­net sub­scribers by the end in 2015, up more than 60 per­cent from 2013. — Reuters

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