CAIRO: The National Telecommunication Regulatory Agency’s (NTRA) enforcement of the ban on internet-based telephone services such as Skype, has gone into effect, according to all three Egyptian mobile network operators.
“The ban is on Skype on mobile internet, not on fixed, and this is due to the fact it is against the law since it bypasses the legal gateway, said Amr Badawy, the executive president of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA), told Reuters.
“We are targeting any illegal voice traffic on the mobile (internet), Badawy said, adding that the ban was communicated to the three mobile operators earlier this week. “Any traffic outside the international gateway is against the law.
The NTRA had tolerated mobile internet telephony until a drop in international call volumes over recent months pushed them to tell Egypt’s operators to enforce the ban, Badawy said.
While Skype may no longer be accessed on USB internet modems, the service can still be reached by users on a wireless or a DSL connection by any internet service providers in Egypt.
Emad Elazhary, TE’s chief commercial officer (CCO), told Daily News Egypt, “I don’t believe [Skype has] negatively affected us. Many people would never have made international calls; there was additional international traffic due to Skype being free.
He clarified that the Egypt Telecommunication Regulation Law of 2003 stipulates that only licensed providers may offer international telephone services, adding that he did not know why the NTRA finally decided to enforce the law.
“Obviously the banning of illegal voice services is a plus for the whole industry. Banning Skype on mobiles makes people use phone services, and as Telecom Egypt provides an international gateway, of course we encourage the enforcement of this law.
Earlier this week, Vodafone suspended the use of Skype on mobile devices such as USB internet modems, and now Etisalat and Mobinil users have also complained about accessing the service.
Mobinil did not release an official statement at time of press, but several users had confirmation on the ban from customer service representatives.
A representative from Etisalat customer service initially denied that any such ban existed, but later checked the information and verified the suspension of Skype services on mobile internet devices.
When asked why the NTRA had now decided to enforce existing legislation regarding internet-based voice services such as Skype, the Etisalat representative replied that his company and other mobile providers can “only comply with the decisions of the government organization [NTRA].
Users of Skype have expressed concern that other internet-based voice services may also be suspended, although Skype provided the most popular means of calling a domestic or international phone line, free of charge.