Morocco’s IT community has developed an ingenious way to protest against the country’s telecom regulator’s decision to ban VoIP over a month ago.
In order to make their point known and felt more widely across the country, the country’s startups and SMEs have decided to take their campaign online to the Facebook pages of the country’s 3 mobile network operators (MNOs) – Meditel, Maroc Telecom and INWI (owned by ONA and Zain Kuwait) – un-liking the pages.
Just for some background, Facebook ‘LIKES’ ensure that anyone who has clicked on the ‘like’ button receives updates about anything shared on the particular page as it appears in their feed and reminds them of your business. This thereby provides an alternative avenue for corporate to communicate specials, sales and discounts among other marketing stuff.
Morocco’s ban on VoIP continues even as the country prepares to host the ICANN55 meeting from March 5 – 10, with ICANN delegates attending the meeting exempted from the ban and many of them expected to use VoIP services to communicate and stay in touch.
Oussama Sefrioui, who operates AGO Solutions, an IT consultancy firm in Morocco, came to our Facebook page last night to draw ICANN’s attention to the ban after we published an article about Morocco hosting the ICANN55 meeting in March.
“Morocco is banning VoIP, a decision that was taken a month ago by your own host #ANRT !! If you are willing to come, make sure you tell your family that you will be out of coverage on voice over Skype, Whatsapp, Viber and all VOIP apps. Enjoy #ICANN55”, wrote Oussama.
ANRT (National Telecommunications Regulatory Agency) is Morocco’s telecom industry regulator charged with the responsibility to control and regulate the telecommunications sector and the host of ICANN55 meeting in Marrakech.
According Oussama, ANRT banned VoIP claiming that it is illegal since the apps do not use the ISPs network, a decision which to him sounds “absurd”.
“They (in this case ANRT) say it is illegal since the apps do not use the ISPs network. An absurd decision. There was a campaign of ‘unlikes’ of operators pages in Facebook since Saturday night, since the Voip ban was extended to WiFi internet connection, after the ban from 3G and 4G networks #opeunlike,” stated Oussama via our Facebook page.
The Facebook campaign of ‘UN-LIKES’ on the MNOs pages is growing in intensity, with each of the 3 operators losing over 100,000 fans since it began.
Although the operators are yet to formally respond directly to the VoIP ban, they have sent a mass SMS to subscribers, stating that the prices for international calls have changed (been reduced downwards).
“We are willing as users to continue our protests making more operations that will impact operators revenues. We are very shocked to see ANRT using Skype for the conference whereas it is banned for the Country!!” added Oussama.
The SMEs and startup owners have also tried to engage the operators directly, sending emails to all the CEOs, with the key message that banning VoIP is not legal and is impacting negatively on the operations of the startups and SMEs.
“We as entrepreuners in IT have our only way to make business with our partners and customers is via this technology. We have been overly impacted by this ban. Morocco is encouraging entrepreneurship and youth startups, but they are taking off the tools ! Startups cannot afford international calls!” he noted.
An article in published in Morocco World News in July 2015 stated that Morocco is among the African countries with highest internet penetration, according to the Oxford Internet Institute (OxIS)’s latest survey on the number of internet users in the world. The article stated that the country has seen staggering growth since OxIS 2011 survey, rising by +10 percentage points in terms of internet penetration behind the likes of South Africa (+14.9) and Kenya (+11), adding that between 40 and 60 per cent of Moroccans are online.