Moroccan Telcos Block Free VoIP Calls To Protect Their Bottom Lines
from the VoIP-providers-lacking-proper-license-to-print-money-for-telcos dept
American telcos don’t have a monopoly on monopolies. Foreign telcos can be just as inappropriately (and pehaps illegally) protective of their
Moroccans and expatriates have taken their fury against the blocking of voice over IP (VoIP) calls to social networks, and have called for the boycott of the North African country’s telecommunication operators that implemented the ban.
There are now growing calls for Moroccan king’s intervention to put pressure on the firms to restore internet call services.
As is befitting monopolistic ventures backed by regulatory capture, protectionist policies were stated as an excuse for the blocking of free VoIP calls.
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.
The country’s citizens have seen it for what it is, though: a completely transparent attempt to ensure the companies can still charge for as many international calls as possible. This led to immediate and forceful backlash, albeit one mostly felt by the companies’ social media flacks and their metrics.
The three telecom operators have lost more than 100,000 “like” mentions within 48 hours of the launch of #OPEUnlike campaign by Marouane Lamharzi Alaoui on Facebook.
Alaoui created a webpage that allows the tracking in real time of the number of people who have unsubscribed from Facebook pages of the three operators.
Rumors are now floating that the telcos are fighting social media fire with social media fire by purchasing “likes.” When the battlefield is Facebook and internet points are at stake, I guess it doesn’t really matter whether the “likes” are real or fake, as neither is going to put more money in the telcos’ pockets. Real accounts aren’t going to make any more expensive international calls than fake accounts, so there’s nothing more at stake here than first impressions from the uninitiated.
Possibly of more use is this strategy:
For some, the ban is illegal, arguing that ANRT has within its powers the ability to “propose” laws, but not to enact them.
“In its 2004 decision subjecting VoIP to a prior license, ANRT wanted to apply a legal regime and therefore exceeded its powers. The decision can be challenged before the administrative court of Rabat by filing for an annulment for abuse of power,” wrote Alaoui.
In addition, a local web awards program has been targeted with a boycott. The withdrawal of several candidates has led to the withdrawal of telecom Inwi as sponsor. A crowdfunding effort has been put into place to allow the committee behind the awards to continue without its telco sponsor.
Whether or not this will be a success is unknown. It’s pretty difficult for internet backlash and Facebook “like” attrition to outweigh an oligopoly backed by a very friendly regulatory agency and overseen by a king.