Egypt regulator enforces Internet voice call ban
By Alastair Sharp
CAIRO (Reuters) - Egypt has begun enforcing a ban on international calls made through mobile internet connections, the head of the telcoms regulator told Reuters on Tuesday, potentially boosting voice revenues at landline monopoly Telecom Egypt.
The ban will apply to the three mobile operators in Egypt -- Mobinil, Etisalat Egypt and Vodafone Egypt -- who offer internet access for computers via USB and other mobile modems, as well as via mobile phone.
"The ban is on Skype on mobile internet, not on fixed, and this is due to the fact it is against the law since it bypasses the legal gateway," said Amr Badawy, the executive president of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA).
Under Egyptian law, international calls must pass through a network controlled by majority state-owned Telecom Egypt, which this week reported disappointing earnings.
While only mentioning Skype by name, Badawy did not rule out extending the ban to other services in the future.
"We are targeting any illegal voice traffic on the mobile (internet)," Badawy said, adding that the ban was communicated to the three mobile operators earlier this week. "Any traffic outside the international gateway is against the law."
Several other providers, including Google, Yahoo and Windows Live, offer Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.
The NTRA had tolerated mobile internet telephony until a drop in international call volumes over recent months pushed them to tell Egypt's operators to enforce the ban, Badawy said. Continued...