Skype questions Egypt ban on mobile internet calls

Internet telephony firm Skype has questioned Egypt’s move to ban international calls made through mobile internet connections and said markets should be left open for consumers to choose.

Head of the National Telecommunication Regulatory Authority Amr Badawy told Reuters earlier this month that the authority will ban international calls through mobile internet connections.

Skype, which has more than 500 million users worldwide, said in an email statement that it was "seeking clarification" from the regulator about the reported ban.

"In general, we believe it should be up to consumers, not regulatory authorities, to choose the winners and losers in the communications space. That is what happens in competitive markets," the statement said.

The ban applies to Egypt’s three mobile operators–Mobinil, Etisalat Egypt and Vodafone Egypt–offering internet access for computers via USB and other mobile modems, as well as mobile handsets. It does not apply to fixed lines.

Egyptian law requires international calls to pass through a network of state-controlled, fixed-line monopoly Telecom Egypt.

Egypt’s ban comes after the United Arab Emirates said earlier in the month it would not give Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) licenses to international companies such as Skype.

In September, India’s security agencies recommended a ban on international internet telephony until a system to trace calls was put in place.

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