Rabat - The first hearing for a case lodged against the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) for blocking VoIP services last January will held on April 21st, according to Medias24.
Rabat – The first hearing for a case lodged against the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ANRT) for blocking VoIP services last January will held on April 21st, according to Medias24.
The hearing, which will be held at an administrative court in Oujda, was originally scheduled for April 7th, but got postponed last week. The unidentified plaintiff filed a suit against the ANRT in March, the suing citizen’s lawyer, Mourad Zibouh, said.
The ANRT clarified the reason for its decision last month, after a group of Moroccans led a social media campaign to reduce the country’s telecommunications companies’ Facebook following by thousands of users. The agency said it blocked services such as Skype, Viber and Whatsapp because the foreign entities who managed them did not have the telecommunications licenses necessary to operate in the country and thus unjustifiably stole potential revenue from domestic phone companies.
After the ANRT’s explanation, Inwi – Morocco’s third largest telecom company – said the blockage does not benefit it in terms of revenues or profits and proceeded to withdraw its sponsorship of the Maroc Web Awards in protest.
Zibouh said Inwi’s perspective on the issue prove that the regulatory agency’s reasoning behind the blockage is invalid.
“The ANRT does not intend to protect the market, but only the interest of the largest operator, [Maroc Telecom], which plays the role of a monopoly,” the lawyer said. “The agency’s decision protects a single actor, while discriminating against others.”
Losing the case would be a serious setback for the Moroccan people socially and economically, Zibouh said.
“If the court rejects our request, this means that the citizens’ interests will be second in importance to those of the telecom companies’ lobbies,” he said. “This, for a country that claims to be democratic, is inconceivable.”