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Technology Mobiles and Tabs 17 May 2016 After WhatsApp, Face ...

After WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger gets banned in Saudi Arabia

Published May 17, 2016, 11:44 am IST
Updated May 17, 2016, 11:44 am IST
All chat apps that have voice and video calling functions are banned under ‘regulations’.
It is not completely clear why the apps are being banned, but reports state that the move is to safeguard traditional telecom operators.
 It is not completely clear why the apps are being banned, but reports state that the move is to safeguard traditional telecom operators.

Well, it seems that Facebook is out to shake up the entire world. After Apple-FBI spat over privacy, WhatsApp rolled out their encryption module. After WhatsApp rolled out the voice calling, they are now enabling video calls too. Facebook Messenger always had voice and video calling for a while. Skype and other similar applications always catered to free VoIP and video calls over the internet. But now, telecom companies are feeling the heat over losing their revenue to internet-based OTT communication apps.

It is pretty simple—internet is far cheaper than regular calling. While local calls are almost free, inter-city and international calls are pretty expensive. Same is the case with SMS. However, chat applications solved this issue by allowing users to communicate with people overseas using the internet route. Since the internet is cheaper, people now use the online medium for messaging and calls, including video.


Telecom companies are now facing the heat with immense losses as people are not using regular phone calls and SMS. Internet service providers are gaining revenue by having their data consumed for OTT applications, thus pushing telecos into losses.

This reason, apart from concerns over national security with encryption-based OTT apps, are what most governments (and telecom operators) against. Saudi Arabia had previously banned WhatsApp and Viber, and now they have blocked Facebook Messenger, at least as far as media reports are stating.

Users have reported that the applications were popping up messages on screen when trying to make voice and video calls. Messages that popped up on screen were stated calling was unavailable as the carrier or country does not support the service.

The users in the Kingdom are not able to use services such as Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Viber, and a few others that cater to online voice and video communication. Arab News mentions that the free internet messenger and call services are failing to comply with the telecom regulations in the Kingdom and hence being blocked out.

“Appropriate action will be taken against applications or services that do not comply with the regulations,” a spokesman at the commission told the Arab News. Loss of revenues by the telecom operators in the Kingdom is cited as the main reason to put constraints on the use of Internet voice calls.

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