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Vodafone Egypt questions legality of WhatsApp Voice ahead of launch

Egypt previously stated it was considering banning free messaging and calling smartphone apps WhatsApp and Viber

Deya Abaza , Monday 9 Mar 2015
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Egypt's largest mobile service provider is raising questions about the legality of WhatsApp's free voice-calling feature due to be released later this year.

In a letter to Egypt’s telecommunications regulator circulated on social media on Monday, Vodafone Egypt inquired about the legality of Whatsapp Voice service.

Egypt’s government has previously stated it was considering banning popular free messaging and international calling smartphone applications WhatsApp and Viber, on “security” as well “financial” considerations.

"In line with the global industry trends, illegal VoIP (routing calls over the internet such as via Skype and Viber) has had a negative impact on telecom operators' profits in recent years due to the loss of international voice calling traffic to the benefit of OTT players such as Skype and Viber," says Omar Maher, telecoms' analyst at Cairo-based investment firm EGF-Hermes.
 
Mobile phone penetration currently surpasses 110 percent in the country of 90 million, with Vodafone Egypt having the largest share of subscriptions, according to the latest publically available data.

In January 2015, WhatsApp, which was acquired by Facebook for $22 billion last October, reported hitting 700 million monthly active users worldwide.

Egypt's law governing telecommunications stipulates that international VoIP services are illegal, an informed Vodafone source told Ahram Online.

One article of the law prohibits establishing or operating telecommunication services and by-passing international telephone calls without obtaining a license from the regulator.

Existing mobile operators have a Class A license that allows them to offer VoIP services inside Egypt only, according to the regulator's website. 

But mobile operators allow VoIP access via their data networks to capture back some of the value lost from the impact of illegal VoIP on their international voice calling profits, says Maher. 
 
Vodafone has not yet decided what action it will take if the regulator confirms that Whatsapp Voice is illegal, said the company source.
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M ni
05-12-2015 07:59pm
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Problem is money.
The issue is the Egyptian government wants money on phone calls. The country is running out of sources of revenue. Either more taxes or you have to pay for everything you do in Egypt. Talk is not cheap (as the saying goes). Help Egypt find more sources of revenue to support all the citizens.
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aboujafar
09-03-2015 09:01pm
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Greedy businessmen!
Since when has any mobile company worried about "security"?! This is the a bunch of greedy people who only care about themselves and don't care if they SET EGYPT BACK AT LEAST 10 YEARS IN TECHNOLOGY!
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KhaledO
10-03-2015 08:10am
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Shame on Vodafone and the NTRA
What's next? BBM? Will we only have sms? Agreed, these greedy people, with a world-wide presence should know better! The should not cling to a stupid, outdated law that was right next to the NTRA's GPS ban. Shame on Vodafone!
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