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First Skype, now Google Chat: rumors of an Egypt ban
First Skype, now Google Chat: rumors of an Egypt ban
“The ban is on Skype on mobile internet, not on fixed, and this is due to the fact it is against the law since it bypasses the legal gateway,” said Amr Badawy, the executive president of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA).
Saturday, April 3,2010 11:14
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On Friday afternoon, as leading opposition figure Mohamed ElBaradei took to the streets in northern Egypt, another story developed on Twitter, or rather, rumors developed: Google Chat and Google Talk was being blocked if using a USB modem. The news is likely to leave Egyptians even more frustrated and angry if true, as mobile companies have already blocked the use of Skype via the USB modems.

According to unsubstantiated reports, users were unable to access Google Chat if employing the USB sticks that allow Internet access remotely via mobile phones.

One user told Bikya Masr “I have been unable to access Google Chat all day from my phone. It has been hard because I want to tell people what’s going on.”

Still, it may be too quick to jump to conclusions, said a TE Data official when asked about a possible ban on Google Chat. He said that it is probably just a Google thing, but we will look into the matter. “It is not unlikely to see it blocked because you can use video to talk to people through it and I know that Telecom Egypt doesn’t like that,” said the official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to the media.

Egypt mobile operators last month barred people from using Skype via their USB modems after Telecom Egypt reported poor earnings and demanded users go through their system in order to call internationally from their mobile phones.

The lobbying of the three Egyptian mobile operators, Vodafone, Mobinil and Etisalat have won the most recent battle with regulators to ban the Internet phone service from 3G users and those using the mobile company’s USB Internet stick.

“The ban is on Skype on mobile internet, not on fixed, and this is due to the fact it is against the law since it bypasses the legal gateway,” said Amr Badawy, the executive president of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (NTRA).

Badawy, however, did not rule out the possibility of extending the ban to other services in the future, including fixed Internet connections in people’s homes.

“We are targeting any illegal voice traffic on the mobile (Internet),” Badawy said, adding that the ban was communicated to the three mobile operators earlier this week. “Any traffic outside the international gateway is against the law.”

For now, some users did confirm they could access Google Chat, but others said they couldn’t. It is again a wait and see game in Egypt as rumors are hitting the web.

Republished with permission from Bikya Masr

tags: Skype / Skype / Google Chat / Google Talk / Mobile Phones / Telecom Egypt / Twitter / Vodafone / ElBaradei / Facebook / Blogs / Bloggers
Posted in Democracy , Elbaradei Campaign  
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