pay phone
Lonely Pay Phone (Courtesy: Eric Hauser)

If you’re trying to make a free phone call using Viber or Skype in Saudi Arabia, forget about it.

Dig up some change and use a pay phone.

The telecom regulator in Saudi Arabia has suspended use of the Viber web-based communication service, which normally allows users to make free calls and send free texts and photos.

The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) is the regulatory agency that issued this ban and the one who sent a warning back in March to Viber, Whatsapp, and Skype for breaking “local laws.”

The thought is that “the kingdom appears to be pushing for greater control over cyberspace as Internet and smart phone usage soars.”

Could it just be about money, like a lot of things usually are?

Nandagopal J. Nair at Quartz comments that:

In the neighboring United Arab Emirates, many features of Skype and Viber are already blocked, but WhatsApp isn’t. That might be a hint that, at least in the UAE, business interests are at play: Skype and Viber, unlike WhatsApp, allow users to make voice calls for free, and international calls are where the telecom operators are likely losing most of their revenue.

Via Reuters and Quartz


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