Business VoIP Featured Article

Morocco's VoIP Ban a Step Back for Economy

April 08, 2016

By Michelle Amodio, Business VoIP Contributor

Internet users throughout Morocco might have had some difficulty in making mobile calls through free apps such as Whatsapp, Viber and Skype using 3G and 4G Internet, regardless of whether they are subscribers of Maroc Telecom, Meditel, or Inwi. The reason why? All three telecom service providers have 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.”

Morocco’s Telecommunications Regulatory National Agency (ANRT) said that none of the products providing VoIP or other ‘free internet calls’ had the required licenses.

“In addition of the losses for the telecoms national market, the free internet voice calls do not respond to the required legal gateway,” said ANRT in a statement at the time of the news break.  “Their suspension (VoIP) came in conformity with the operators’ obligations that were underlined in their licenses.”

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.

Beyond the technological obstacle, banning VoIP overall is terrible for the economy. For one, canceling VoIP services affects Morocco’s ability to compete as a small to medium business destination. For many SMBs, VoIP is an affordable way to do business and communicate with their satellite and virtual offices who might be located in Morocco. Many U.S. and European SMBs have opened subsidiaries in Morocco and rely on services like FaceTime, Skype, Viber and WhatsApp to run their operations. This decision has a direct impact on overhead, and can deter future businesses from investing in the local economy.

Of course, business aside, free apps provide a method of communication to those with lower income. Many people who work lower income jobs cannot afford costly phone bills, thus have come to rely on free applications to make and receive calls.

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 Maurice Nagle


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