By Jonathan Walsh
By Jonathan Walsh
Rabat – The Moroccan National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) has announced that it will hold a conference in Marrakech next month will utilize Skype services, despite Skype being banned for the Moroccan public.
The move is the latest in a long saga after Moroccan Telecom Companies fully blocked the usage of VoIP services last week.
The ANRT will host 55th conference of the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) from March 5th to 10th in Marrakech . Those who can not attend the conference in person will be able to communicate via otherwise banned Skype services.
“Where a presenter is not physically present at the conference, Skype, Facetime, or Google Hangout will be used to connect the presenter to the in-room audio system with a bidirectional connection, and video will be projected on screen. This is a special, limited availability service,” reads an official document of the conference posted on the ICANN website.
The move to restrict VoIP communication sparked a fierce backlash from Moroccans, who claim the restriction is a limit on their right to communicate and will negativity affect small businesses.
The decision to ban the use of Skype, Facetime, WhatsApp and Hangout was backed by the ANRT. In a statement released last January, ANRT claimed that applications that offer free VoIP services “are not in compliance with current regulations and represent a large loss for the national telecom providers.”
“This is a severe blow to many start-ups, companies, and technological creation units,” a spokesperson for the opposition Constitutional Union Party said, “especially at a time when new technology entrepreneurship is a potential pathway for the creation of thousands of jobs.”
The final stage of the VoIP services ban expanded from the restriction of calls made via 3G and 4G connections to all calls made with a WiFi connection.
A campaign has been set into motion to ‘unlike’ pages of the Telecom providers. In addition, many nominees of the upcoming Maroc Web Awards (ironically sponsored by the three major telecom companies) have withdrawn in protest.
“I can’t participate in a competition that is sponsored by companies that does not care for its consumers and that ban VoiP services. This is some sort of sick joke,” said Bilal Aljouhari, a Moroccan YouTuber who was nominated for “Personality of the Year” before pulling out last week.
Despite all of this, the Telecom providers claim they are within their rights to allow or block any communication they wish, citing that they hold contracts regarding the provision of any and all telecommunication services in Morocco. It is hard to see where the situation will go from here.