Middle-east Arab News Opinion | Asharq Al-awsat

Whatsapp Video, Voice Call Back Reality in Saudi Arabia | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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A Whatsapp App logo is seen behind a Samsung Galaxy S4 phone that is logged on to Facebook in the central Bosnian town of Zenica, February 20, 2014. REUTERS/Dado Ruvic

Jeddah – Chaos of WhatsApp voice and video call ban and activation has emerged again in Saudi Arabia. Following the last update, users thought they can use WhatsApp video call with others, after the service was banned when WhatsApp launched it for the first time.

Asharq Al-Awsat tested these services and apparently the activation is useless, as only those who are using the same wi-fi connection in the same house or in the same office can benefit from it. Asharq Al-Awsat also tested the service between two phones in the same house, with one connected to wi-fi and the other to the internet service provided by a telecommunication operator, however, the service didn’t work.

Many have suggested that the activation of this service is a mistake and that the Saudi Arabian Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) didn’t update the restrictions it imposed after the update of the application. Others assumed that the CITC unintentionally removed the ban, but will resume it as soon as possible.

Saudi Arabia’s telecommunication operators were heavily criticized last year after they officially restricted the video call service at the request of the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) in the kingdom. However, the commission and the telecom companies exchanged accusations of the ban responsibility – hoping the public will forget the matter with time.

This confusion led people to launch a campaign threatening to boycott the telecommunication companies in an attempt to urge them to develop their services in a way that responds to users’ needs. People unfollowed the companies’ accounts on social media pages.

Users see that telecommunication companies and the CITC decided to ban this category of apps to protect their commercial interests, especially that WhatsApp is one of many applications like Facetime, Line Messenger, Facebook Messenger, Snapchat, Viber, and many others which provide free calls.

These disputes also brought back to surface the companies’ attempts to suspend apps of instant text messaging to control their losses.

However, companies lost this battle and compensated their subscribers with new bundles offering services with good prices. Apparently, CITC didn’t recognize until now that the telecommunication’s future starts by providing people with attractive bundles to use new apps, and not by banning people from using them.