Monday, February 20, 2012

Has Skype Been Blocked in Morocco?

There is something odd happening with Skype in Morocco. According to several blogs and the MoroccoBoard site in the USA, Skype and several other VoIP services have been blocked by Maroc Telecom. However, when The View from Fez tried making several short Skype calls today, we encountered no problem. However, other VoIP providers such as Viper and Tango did experience connection problems, particularly from smart phone. So has Skype really been blocked?

Among the blogs reporting a blocking of VoIP services are popular Moroccan blog, Moroccan Geeks [French], who say that Skype and all other VoIP services have been blocked in the country. The blog points to an article from Moroccan newspaper Al Sabaheya confirming the news [Arabic].


The MoroccoBoard News site says:
...telephone operator, Maroc Telecom, has blocked access to several sites that provide free VoIP telephone service to its users. The ban has affected the Skype service that is used by most Moroccans to call their friends, relatives and customers overseas. The ban has also affected access to TeamSpeak and many other services that provide the VoIP functionality.

This decision has been taken by Maroc Telecom, which is know for its predatory commercial practices, for the purpose of shielding itself against competition and pushing its users to pay for its services and stop using free online services, like Skype, TeamSpeak, Viber and others.

The Maroc telecom is the former state telecom monopoly that has been sold to the French Company Vivendi. It has been a cash cow for Vivendi for many years. it has been producing unusually high profits for the company. Maroc Telecom is the default internet providers for Most users in Morocco.

Users on a number of sites have reported that:
Teamspeak.com is censored, Ventrilo and Mumble cannot connect to the servers. Viber cannot connect anymore from smartphones. Skype bandwitch has been limited in June 2011 and now reduced again in November 2011 which causes disconnections every 10 minutes and poor call quality, it's a progressive censorship to make it seem like it's just some technical problems, that's why some users say "oh well Skype is working fine for me" That's Maroc Telecom objective.
If Maroc Telecom is blocking VoIP calls, then this would be serious for hundreds of thousands of Moroccans who use the services to make calls as they are unable to afford the cost of mobile calls. The View from Fez would like to hear from VoIP users. Please leave a comment or email us.

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13 comments:

Anonymous said...

I can confirm that it has been blocked 100%.
I always used it to communicate with my family, but I can't do it any more.
The "blogo-sphere" is filled with theories as to why Maroc Telecom has done it. the most plausible is to be able to control all the communications carried over Skype and other VOIP providers.
This is the "new democracy", if anybody has ever had doubts about the good intentions of the Moroccan regime.

Derek said...

Not only is it making things difficult for many people who are unable to pay for phone calls, but it is also a restriction of civil liberties. I also suspect it could cost the business community dear in the long-term, as many companies now rely on such systems as Skype to make group conference calls worldwide.

Anonymous said...

@Derek

You hit the nail in the head right there.
Morocco has been singing the praises of the "Call Centers" for a while now. So much so that a comedy was hastily put together last Ramadan. It was appropriately named "Cool Center", the "Cool" is a spoof and pun that works on many levels for those that know the subtleties of the Moroccan dialect.
Anyway. these "Call Centers" rely heavily on VOIP to provide them with cheap access to customers all over France, Spain, Belgium, and even Italy.
The main points behind these "Call Centers" are:
1. Cheap communications between Morocco and Europe, and even Canada.
2. Cheap skilled labor from Morocco.
3. Very generous tax incentives from the Moroccan government.
If any of these incentives comes short, then the "Call Centers" would quickly relocate somewhere else, mostly in Tunisia.
I think that Ahizoune, the over paid moron at the helm of Maroc Telecom just made the biggest blunder of his career at the service of the "makhzen".
This will be one of those famous "The gift that keeps on giving!", sort of scenario.
It is such a short sighted measure. On the face of it, it seems the "perfect" solution. But there is no such a thing as perfect in a such an open world. Maroc Telecom will pay dearly for this, if they persist on doing it.
One little correction: I can still use Skype, but the communication is very "choppy" at best, and sometimes non-existent.

David said...

Worked fine for me to call a mobile in the States last night. 30 minute call, great quality.

Anonymous said...

thats not using the free service, it is skype to skype calls which are free which are being blocked esp if trying to use video. It has been like this for months, one tends to put it down to the incomptence of Maroc Telecome, furious to know it is possibly deliberate. Brings to mind china and google!

Gabby said...

I confirm, I live in Casablanca and Skype is blocked. I called to Maroc Telecom and they said that it is not true. The operator told me, Maroc Telecom doesn't block any site, any program. But, I tried with Inwi 3G and is working!!!!!!. Then, is it possible to stop this chaine of lies?. Is it possible that SKYPE confirm in the press or internet this block? Thank you

Rachel said...

The Skype problem I do not think will go away without significant political pressure applied by the business community even though French-owned Maroc Telecom apparently claim no involvement. From other postings on the net, MAroc Telecom are limiting the bandwidth for voice calls making the service almost unusable, forcing a poverty-stricken population to have to pay for their already very expensive services. I am still just about able to use Skype for voice, but the connections are 90% unreliable My business partners are selling Morocco as a destination in Australia and bring millions of dirhams annually in tourism into this country and we rely on Skype for inter-office communications. This 'interference' will deter many foreign business investors in setting up projects here - especially as Morocco is not a destination which can avail of cheap call rates from EU and USA etc.

Anonymous said...

same thing here... I am french and have relocated to Rabat a few years ago. I have been able to communicate with europe for my business with skype until 2012.. But now it becomes almost impossible to do so and I am trying other means for calling abroad. First of all I bought a Meditel 3G which works fine at home and is ok in the office. For skype I do recommend using either Meditel or Inwi 3G. Otherwise, when possible, I often ask people from france to call me when they are using "Free" which is actually completely free for them when calling my landline. The impact on the business is actually there as I cant afford to keep people at the office that have to call french clients because costs are simply too high... So I agree the impact on MT and maybe Morocco could be there if they cant find a technical or commercial solution for that internet mess... I dont know if a technical issue or commercial choice is the reason, but I expect MT will see a difference in returns this year as clients will swith either to another operator, or in some cases, relocate their workforce..

Anonymous said...

Use a VPN like Witopia and you have crystal clear VoIP

Bonita Boulkam said...

My husband is in Morocco, we married over a year ago, I am in Britain, the only way we can keep our relationship alive is through skype and this has been impossible for most of that year.
It's tearing us apart

Bonita Boulkam said...

My husband lives in Morocco, I live in Britain, we married over a year ago, and we haven't been able to see each other since.
We used to keep our relationship, hopes, dreams alive through skype but that has been impossible for nearly all of that year.

It's tearing us apart!

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