Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Skype blocked in Jordan, users outraged

Throughout the past month, the Telecommunications Regulatory Committee (TRC) has been sending letters to Internet Service Providers in Jordan, ordering them to block Skype’s website.

Skype is a free Internet telephony service which enables users to make international phone calls without passing through Jordan Telecom's network.

This means that Skype is causing a lose of revenue to Jordan Telecom, which it used to make from international calls in particular, as do all licensed suppliers who sell calling cards; as there services also pass through Jordan Telecom's local lines.

Simply, a number of local players in the telecom market were losing business because of Skype, and it seems their pressure on the TRC, the body which licensed these telecom companies and collects annual fees from them, has finally resulted in action against Internet telephony in Jordan.

From a user perspective, abruptly preventing the use of Skype in Jordan seems like a tyrannical action aimed at canceling a free service to force users to pay local telecom operators for their national and international calls. Any consumer who was getting something for free will be unhappy.

As you would expect, Jordanian bloggers are outraged, and they're making all sorts of accusations and judgments on this matter, ranging from bruising crtisizm of the TRC and Jordan Telecom all the way up to deciding that Jordan is no longer a liberal economic environment!

While their frustration is understandable, their analysis seems to be getting out of hand. I don't blame them. I blame the TRC for totally mismanaging this issue.

It is surprising that the TRC did not make an official statement in this regard, explaining this action to the public and, possibly, trying to argue its case of how it's in the best interest of the national economy to protect local telecom investors; or whatever other reasons the TRC can reveal.

Doing it this way, by quietly sending orders to ISPs, then users waking up the next morning to find they can't access their favorite telephony service just creates outrage and very bad publicity for the TRC and Jordan Telecom.

If there shall be no reversal of this decision, the very least to do now is make an official statement about it, outlining the government's policies regarding voice over IP and unlicensed Internet telephony services and explaining to consumers the other options they still have available, which although not free like Skype, may be very reasonably priced.

Consumers in Jordan nowadays are sophisticated and knowledgable. If the TRC must make painful decisions, then it must treat consumers with respect, communicating with them and explaining such actions.

One of the TRC’s goals is to maintain the competitiveness and fair practice of the telecom sector to the benefit of the consumer. Maybe the TRC should start talking to the consumer first.

(Published in The Star)


At 3:54 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here is the kicker. Our tax money pays for their salaries, pays for the phone and internet bills, then the bastards come and milk us for more. SCREW THIS SHIT.


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