Voice over IP or VoIP has been a vital business communications tool for many years.
While the technology is still developing, a large percentage of organizations around the world have already adopted it. VoIP has many benefits, including cost savings, scalability, and global accessibility.
However, some countries have banned VoIP, including the UAE and other Middle Eastern countries. Why? Let’s take a look.
Which Countries Have Banned VoIP?
Currently, there are around 20 countries that regulate or block VoIP calls. Here is a list of those countries, along with more details about VoIP restrictions in each country.
|Belize||VoIP in Belize is restricted to only government-owned services.|
|Brazil||VoIP calling is allowed through government-owned services.|
|Caribbean Region||Cellular providers block “free” call apps that use VoIP.|
|China||VoIP is restricted to only government-owned services such as China Telecom and China Unicom.|
|Cuba||Skype is blocked, but access to other VoIP services is permitted.|
|Egypt||Mobile devices are not allowed to use VoIP, while VoIP over fixed connections is “tolerated.”|
|Iran||The government blocks foreign messaging and communications systems.|
|Jordan||Censorship of services like VoIP and Skype.|
|North Korea||International calling is illegal using VoIP.|
|Qatar||Only two companies are licensed to sell VoIP services in Qatar – QTel and Vodafone.|
|Kuwait||VoIP service is regulated by the Communications & Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA).|
|Israel||Blocks or restricts VoIP.|
|Morocco||Blocks services like Skype and VoIP.|
|Paraguay||Blocks services like Skype.|
|Oman||Blocks services like VoIP.|
|Pakistan||VoIP and Skype are not allowed.|
|Mexico||Blocks most VoIP services.|
|South Korea||Connections are unstable.|
|UAE||Use of VoIP is illegal.|
Why is VoIP Banned in Some Countries?
Countries around the world block or restrict VoIP calls for several reasons.
The first reason to block VoIP calling is to preserve government profits. Various state-owned telecom monopolies worldwide — especially in the Middle East — rely on international calling and voice communications as a major source of revenue. Large revenue streams would dry up if these countries allowed VoIP.
Security and privacy are additional reasons for countries blocking VoIP. Some countries claim that their VoIP bans serve to protect society from negative influences that could harm the public interest. Others block the technology for security reasons during times of political turmoil and to prevent cheating.
Reasons VoIP is Blocked in Dubai and Kuwait
UAE is an expat-majority country. Many people in the country want to call their loved ones back home and thus require international calling services. However, the country has two government-owned monopolies – Du and Etisalat. Both operators take measures to ensure VoIP does not endanger their revenues.
Kuwait has a similar situation where local authorities look to preserve their revenues derived from voice communications. If they allowed VoIP in Kuwait, they would lose a significant source of revenue.
How are VoIP Bans Affecting People?
VoIP bans are nothing new. In fact, they started years back in 1999, around the time the technology started becoming popular. The effects of these bans can be significant.
For example, many people living abroad cannot communicate with their families back home. The exorbitant international calling rates imposed by monopolies prevent people from calling their families.
As a result, people are growing more frustrated and sharing those frustrations online.
Local and regional telecom operators want to preserve their profits. It’s understandable. But residents in many countries have called to end VoIP bans.
So, VoIP laws might change around the world. There have been ongoing negotiations between big tech companies and some of the countries blocking VoIP.
For example, Microsoft and Apple are negotiating with countries to repeal their bans on Skype and FaceTime. If these negotiations go well, perhaps the countries will also start to allow businesses to use VoIP. But for now, the technology remains banned in some countries.
VoIP Alternatives for Blocked Countries
You can use three major alternatives to VoIP in countries where restrictions apply. These three methods — VPN, local access numbers, and international callback — all offer significant cost savings compared to using services from telecom monopolies.
However, governments and ISPs in those countries know of the methods used to bypass their restrictions. While these VoIP alternatives may achieve their purpose, authorities may consider them illegal.
So, even though an alternative may work for a given time, it may soon incur restrictions or legal repercussions.
1. VPN Tunnel
A VPN tunnel is the first VoIP alternative for countries with VoIP restrictions. Users will simply connect to a VPN that encrypts their traffic and hides their IP addresses. They’ll be able to access VoIP software to make and receive calls.
2. Local Access Number
The second major VoIP alternative is using a local access number to dial out. Your service provider would offer you a local or freephone number that you could call, enter a PIN, and dial the number you want to reach.
3. International Callback
Finally, an international callback solution acts as another strong alternative to VoIP in countries with VoIP bans.
Businesses in restricted countries would dial a trigger number, hang up the call, and then receive a callback. Upon receiving the callback, they would enter the destination number to call and connect.
How United World Telecom Can Help
At United World Telecom, we provide VoIP solutions and alternatives to VoIP that work well in blocked countries. To learn more, contact us and chat with our experts online!