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Saudi Arabia opens itself to Skype, WhatsApp and other internet calling services

Lifting a longtime ban, Saudi Arabia will open up the country to online calling services. Apps like Skype and WhatsApp will become functional in the country on Wednesday at midnight local time. The announcement came from the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications regulatory authority.

In a news release, the CITC explained its decision to reverse the internet and VoIP calling ban, which it implemented in 2013:

“The Spokesman for the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Mr. Adel Abu Hameed, today announced the lifting of the ban on all applications that provide voice and video communications over the Internet that meet the regulatory requirements in the Kingdom, starting on Thursday… [at midnight].

He added that applications that meet the regulatory requirements will be available to all users of telecommunications services, for example, TimeTime, [Snapchat], Skype, Line, Telegram, Tango and other applications, except those applications that are very limited to meet regulatory requirements.

This decision comes in line with the recent trends in the ICT sector; the reliance on data revenues (Internet delivery) and added services is the global trend that operators in the Kingdom should take. He added that the Authority is working with all stakeholders to provide all the telecom subscribers in the Kingdom of the finest services that meet their aspirations and satisfy their needs.”

The change is expected to impact Saudi Telecom Company, Mobily and Zain, the country’s three major telecoms that had exercised control over the market for international calling over the course of the ban.

Featured Image: Erik Tham/Getty Images


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