The war on Internet freedom took another dark turn at the beginning of October 2015 with social media reporting that Egypt would block Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) applications. Services that could be restricted in Egypt include Skype, WhatsApp, and Viber. source
Vodafone sent a message to its customer base stating that Skype has been blocked in Egypt until further notice, which serves to demonstrate that Internet providers in Egypt and other countries can levy blocks without any advance notice. Oman and the UAE have also enacted blocks of Skype in the past. In the UAE Skype-to-Skype is now permitted but WhatsApp and Viber remain unavailable.
Skype users in Egypt were quick to voice their displeasure on Twitter. While Mobinil, one of Egypt’s primary providers of mobile phone services, blocked Skype on its 3G networks last year, ADSL (a type of DSL broadband technology) Internet users began to report that they did not have access to Skype, WhatsApp, or Viber.
Why did Egypt block Skype and other VoIP Apps?
Telecommunication leaders in Egypt were quick to explain the VoIP blocks by claiming that significant financial losses by the telecom companies necessitated the blocks. Their claim is the same one that has been offered before in places like Oman and the UAE. Telecom operations, many of which are state-owned, claim that VoIP services discourage regular calling and text messaging.
When Skype and WhatsApp were questioned about the move they did not respond to initial queries. This is not uncommon given the possibility that VoIP could be unblocked on a moment’s notice. Companies do not want to do anything that would jeopardize their VoIP Apps being used in Egypt in the future.
A statement was issued by the National Telecommunications Regulatory Authority in Egypt, however, that dismissed reports of a Skype block as rumors.
Can a VPN unblock Skype in Egypt?
For Internet users that read the VPN Accounts blog and other news outlets, threats against online freedom do not come as a surprise. These individuals know that purchasing VPN service is a must for expats and other individuals that plan to be travelling abroad. As we stated above, blocks of VoIP apps can literally occur without advance warning. Individuals that have not previously secured their VPN service before arriving in a host country may find themselves without their preferred VoIP service.
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