As explained by the Saudi Press Agency, the decision was made by the telecom regulator to unblock VoIP services such as WhatsApp in Saudi Arabia. This is to enable the residents of the country to use apps offering voice calling or voice. The announcement was made by Abdullah bin Amer Al-Sawahah via Twitter.
The regulators and their telecom partners are cooperating with their Customer First policy. The goal is to provide the Saudi Arabia subscribers with the services they need and expect. The policy is from the broader Vision 2030 initiative of the nation and was enacted by Mohammed bin Salman, the Deputy Crown Prince. The goal is to improve Saudi Arabia’s technology and build a digital society.
Conditions have been placed on using VoIP services in Saudi Arabia by the officials. The Communications and Information Technology Minister reportedly stated the telecom service providers and government agencies will be monitoring the usage of the apps to ensure transparency, and all subscriber complaints must be reported by the telecom companies.
Saudi Arabia banned all VoIP services including Skype, Viber, and WhatsApp in 2013. The officials felt the services were not in compliance with the regulations of the government. The removal of the block is certain to be welcomed by the expatriates. They will be able to substantially reduce their phone bills by using VoIP instead of making traditional phone calls. International phone calls are expensive when regularly placed. The Vision 2030 initiative will take a step forward because the removal of the block enables businesses to use the video conferencing services.
The move made by Saudi Arabia has caused many to look to the United Arab Emirates, the home of numerous expatriates from all over the world. VoIP services are still banned by the UAE despite the temporary unblocking of WhatsApp’s free features in June. It was made clear by the UAE VoIP calling was still banned. They said these services must coordinate with Etisalat and Du, the two licensed providers in the nation. The services must additionally comply with the regulations of the government.
WhatsApp has also been blocked by other Middle Eastern nations. It has been placed in the same category as Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube. According to the reports, Instagram and these sites were blocked by Turkey nearly a year ago. Additional countries have been reported to have blocked these site during various periods including Bangladesh, Brazil and numerous others.