Saudi Arabia Decides to Remove Prohibition on Internet Phone Calls
Saudi Arabia has decided to remove its prohibition on web phone calls on September 20, 2017, as confirmed by the government official , in a bid to fast track digital business as the province is looking to upsurge non-oil revenue. All digital voice call and voice services such as WhatsApp by Facebook Inc. and Skype by Microsoft Inc. that accurately fulfill regulatory need will become conveniently accessible from midnight (2100 GMT), as mentioned by the spokesperson, Adel Abu Hameed from CITC- a telecom regulator on Twitter on September 19, 2017.
This lift in the ban can probably pinch three dominant telecom operators in Saudi Arabia namely Zain Saudi, Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), and Saudi Telecom Co (STC) which are able to fetch significant amount of revenue from international text and phone calls made by hundreds and thousands of expatriates that have migrated to the kingdom. The reversal in the policy comes as a vital part of the broad reform programme set by the government to diversify and open revenue sources as oil prices have said to hit the financial budget of some of the top exporters around the globe.
A separate statement given by the Information Ministry mentioned that, “the digital transformation and development is one of the major kick-starters mainly for the economy in Saudi Arabia, as it will significantly incentivize the development of web-based businesses, primarily in the entertainment and media industries. Legal access to the voice over internet protocol (VoIP) will lessen the operational costs and help in spurring virtual entrepreneurship- that’s the reason why it is such a vital step related to the internet regulation of the Kingdom.” Saudi Arabia as well as its Gulf Arab neighbors have shown concern regarding secure web communication which according to the experts is difficult to monitor, especially by militants and activists.
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