By Mohamed Alaa Eldin
The Internet Revolution movement warned against blocking Voice-over IP (VoIP) applications by mobile operators.
A number of Internet Service Providers (ISP) have blocked VoIP applications, according to a source in the Internet Revolution movement. The source said this will lead to banning voice calls through popular application, such as Facebook, Skype, and Viber, as well as messaging applications such as WhatsApp.
The source added that Skype and Yahoo Messenger applications have both stopped working via Vodafone Internet, whether ADSL or mobile 3G service. He noted that this will harm thousands of young people who work as freelancers in outsourcing services and software, as communications applications, and especially Skype, are their main method of communicating with their clients abroad.
For his part, Khaled Hegazy, External Affairs and Legal Director for Vodafone Egypt, said ISP companies are not authorised to cut services, as such a step can only be taken by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA).
Hegazy added that Vodafone has not received any orders from the NTRA so far about banning free communications applications, such as Viber – noting that they are functioning as per normal so far.
However, claiming it received information from official sources, the Internet Revolution has called for a protest next week, which it will organise in front of the cabinet headquarters.
In 2013, a debate sparked on free communication applications that enable users to make free domestic and international voice calls. At the time, mobile operators they cannot ban these services unless they receive orders from the NTRA, which noted that the authority is still studying the situation to evaluate the extent of the damage on mobile operators in Egypt. No decisions were made in that regard since.
In March, the UAE’s Telecommunication Regulatory Authority announced the banning of WhatsApp service, and emphasised the need for coordination between free communications applications with mobile operators to ensure no damage is caused to operators.