Posts like this one are becoming far more common on the Skype forums: “I live in Canada and have been trying to Skype my husband who is working in Oman. Every time he tries to log into his Skype account he gets an error message. Why is there no Skype in Oman?”
Those who don’t know that Skype is blocked in Oman will soon figure it out upon arriving in this Arab nation. It can be a rude awakening, especially for expats who have few options for communicating with their family at home. Using Skype in Oman is possible, but visitors need to make some preparations beforehand to ensure access.
Who is blocking Skype, and why?
In Oman the ISP’s are directly controlled by the Omani government, and they take VoIP applications like Skype very seriously. In 2009, the Royal Oman Police raided 121 cyber cafes and arrested over 200 people for providing access to Skype and other VoIP services. You read that right—arrested. As in jail. A jail cell in Oman does not conjure up pleasant images.
So, why does the government in Oman hate Skype? Simply put, they feel that it undermines their handle on national security. People in Oman can forget about cheap international calls via Skype. The Omani regime considers this technology a prime stomping ground for terrorists.
You also have to consider that the government is highly involved in all telecommunications provided in Oman. Every penny saved using Skype is a penny that does not go into the government coffers. A very different mentality about what one can and cannot do on the Internet exists throughout the entirety of the Arab region, and tolerance is very low for those who choose to disobey the rules.
How are people beating the Skype smackdown?
Some websites have ill-advised those in Oman to use proxy servers to beat the Skype ban. This is a huge mistake. Most proxy servers do not sustain the speed necessary to enable VoIP phone calls. Those who are getting around the block on Skype are doing it with a VPN account, just like the one we offer.
VPN’s maintain a connection speed that will allow VoIP communication as well as the sharing of files and photos. The trick is making sure a VPN is purchased and configured before arriving in the region simply because the site with the guide may be blocked. If you happen to be in the region and unable to access the VPN setup guide we can email you a copy. The government actively blocks access to VPN provider sites like ours from within the country. Many people arrive in Oman unaware that they will not be able to purchase VPN service.
If you are going to use Skype in Oman, stay away from the more crowded cyber cafes and always use a VPN. Don’t say you weren’t warned! When con nected to the VPN, your online activities are anonymous and not logged by omantel.
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