By Beryl Kessio
By Beryl Kessio
Rabat – Today, some reports have surfaced that the National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency (ARNT) has quietly reversed its ban on VoIP services such as Skype, WhatsApp and more. The ARNT, however, has not released an official statement concerning the lifted restrictions; the loophole was discovered by trial and error.
The ban was instituted in January on the grounds that free IP-based calling services weren’t licensed to operate as telecom entities in Morocco. The government’s undisclosed turnaround comes after a report that the Moroccan economy lost $320 million as a result of the decision to curtail use of VoIP services, according to the American Center for Technological Innovation at the Brookings Institution.
Disgruntled Moroccans expressed their disapproval of the decision, launching campaigns calling on citizens to boycott the three main Moroccan telecommunications agencies: Maroc Telecom, Meditel and INWI. One Moroccan national even went to court to battle the ARNT’s authority to ban these services.
Residents who have turned to VPNs (virtual private networks) to dodge the government’s restriction should not ditch them just yet. Despite the campaigns by Moroccan citizens and international criticism, some presume that the ban was temporarily lifted as a result of the fast-approaching COP 22 conference taking place in Marrakech in November, and will swiftly be reinstated after the conference ends. COP 22 proceedings will draw government officials, representatives of UN bodies and agencies, intergovernmental and non-governmental organizations and media personnel to the kingdom.
The actual functionality of VoIP services has yet to yield consistent results.