Egypt’s regulator NTRA has set up a Committee to monitor mobile applications like Viber and What’s App to decide whether to ban, allow free usage or restrict them somehow. However, the game was clear when the individual in charge of the task said they might need to be banned because of their impact on investment and security.
The Head of the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (NTRA) Amr Badawy says these applications allow subscribers to make free calls, messages and share files while their sources remain unknown. Pre-paid applications will face losses.
What’s App allows users to send free SMS’s over a data connection and Viber is very similar to Skype: both require data connections that customers pay for. Perhaps the most damning thing the NTRA raised in its eyes about Viber was that it was developed by an Israeli company. Nearby neighbor Saudi Arabia’s regulator has recently banned Viber on the grounds that it leads to call losses for its hugely dominant incumbent.
Egypt has clearly got itself in something of a mess with Over-The-Top applications for it has said that Skype is OK for personal calls on a fixed line but must not be used for mobile calls as they must pass through an international gateway.
The Gambia’s regulator PURA found itself in a similar confusing position when it was initially quoted as banning Skype but later said that all it was making illegal was the use of Skype by cyber-café operators.
Credit: Balancing Act