Morocco lifts ban on free mobile internet calls ahead of COP 22

Photo credit: Africanews

Moroccan voice over IP or free mobile internet calls made on social networks including Skype, Viber, Tango, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger have been unblocked after a ban of more than eight months.

Morocco’s Telecommunications Regulatory National Agency (ANRT), which was behind the ban, justified its decision by stating that none of the services providing voice over IP (VoIP) or other “free internet calls” had the required licenses.

However, ANRT’s move was described as a move to boost operators’ revenues from international calls.

On it’s website, ANRT points out that, in reference to Article 1 of Decision ANRT / DG / No. 04-04 on the status of IP telephony, commercial exploitation of the IP telephony service and the traffic carriage for a third party can only be done by telecom licensed operators.

The quiet lifting of the ban is said to be in anticipation of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 22) which will be in full swing this week in Marrakech and to avoid embarrassment.

Thousands of Moroccans denounced the move, to a point where one of them even went to court.

Speculation on the other hand is that the Moroccan economy plunged by $320 as a result of the decision to curtail use of VoIP services, according to the American Center for Technological Innovation at the Brookings Institution.