VoIP issues are a dime a dozen when it comes to making free Internet calls from popular apps, such as Skype (News - Alert) and Viber. Many of the “issues” refer to telcos wanting a piece of the pie, as these free apps take away from revenue streams. This was the highlight of recent news coming out of Jordan this week; the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) was looking into legal guidelines on whether subscriptions to free services would be required.
This is a common theme across the globe, particularly in areas where regular lines are often expensive, leading consumers to rely on free apps to make free or inexpensive calls. The telcos, of course, are not pleased.
“Telecom companies are generally in favor of imposing charges on the use of these services as they negatively affect their revenues, with many users making international calls instead of using traditional voice calls,” an expert who asked to remain anonymous, told The Jordan Times.
At a meeting earlier this week, the TRC determined that no charges will be imposed in Jordan on the use of VoIP services, including Skype and Viber.
“The TRC council of commissioners held a meeting with the CEO of Zain Jordan, Orange (News - Alert) Jordan and Umniah… The meeting ended with a decision not to impose any fees on VoIP services,” the TRC said in a statement to The Jordan Times.
The gist of these free apps is basically, if it’s free, someone wants to capitalize on it.
In 2014, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced that the Telecommunications Law and the TRA’s VoIP regulatory policy “allows only the licensees to provide telecommunications services in the UAE including VoIP services.”
While Skype’s text messaging is allowed in the country, its VoIP calls remain encrypted and barred. The TRA added in its statement, “this policy has not been amended” as a clarification to rumors that Skype VoIP calls were being made legal.
Earlier this year, Internet users throughout Morocco had some difficulty in making mobile calls through free apps such as Whatsapp, Viber and Skype using 3G and 4G Internet. The reason why? All three major telecom service providers decided to block VoIP calls that are made through 3G and 4G.
Back in January, Maroc Telecom, Meditel, and Inwi cut VoIP services without any notice in what has been described by one Moroccan columnist as a “legal” but “irrational and backward step.”
Some would argue that blocking services is troubling as it is an affront to technological advancement and free speech, and it does more than affect resident users. Expats who rely on free services to keep in touch with families have found this to be an unnecessary roadblock in an era of modern communications.
The decision to block VoIP services in Morocco highlights the financial benefit to the telecom providers, but it sends a negative message to the global business community.
Edited by Rory J. Thompson