Saudi Arabia lifts ban on Internet Messaging Services

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The Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC), Saudi Arabia’s telecommunications regulatory authority, has announced that Saudi Arabia will open up the country to online calling services, lifting a longtime ban it implemented in 2013.

This means that major messaging services like WhatsApp and Skype will become functional in the country on Thursday at midnight.

The CITC explained its decision to reverse the internet and VoIP calling ban,

“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, WhatsApp and other applications, except those applications that are very limited to meet regulatory requirements.

Mr. Adel Abu Hameed continued,

“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 which had exercised control over the market for international calling over the course of the ban.