Don’t look now, but Saudi Arabia may not be alone in its attempts to flag Viber as a metaphorical thorn in its side. Egypt’s National telecommunication Regulatory Agency (NTRA) is apparently conducting studies to determine whether or not to regulate or even ban mobile phone applications such as Viber and WhatsApp Messenger.
The agency isn’t considering blocking the apps a la Saudi Arabia, but regulation is definitely on the table according to NTRA head Amr Badawy.
“NTRA has been formed to oversee these mobile applications and will decide whether to ban, allow free usage or restrict them somehow,” he said.
This information comes from state-run newspaper Al-Ahram, which cites economic and security concerns as the reasoning for such a ban. Economic concerns are a well-known issue when it comes to free calling and messaging apps, which can take away revenues from mobile carriers.
Unfortunately, many carriers don’t believe VoIP and messaging apps can coexist with their services despite agreements between Nimbuzz and agreements by Skype in the past, along with those by LINE in many parts of Asia. These agreements, along with the sale of data buckets to users, are a great way for carriers to evolve and recoup some of their losses. They could even create their own VoIP and messaging solutions to compensate. All without embracing the often times too-intrusive arm of the government.