Wednesday, June 9, 2010

The Skype's the Limited

Well now, this is disturbing. The Lebanese government seems intent on keeping Lebanon in the stone age when it comes to technology. This week, it activated equipment to block Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services.

Congratulations, Lebanon! You join such healthy democratic societies as China and UAE who block VoIP.

While Skype is still functional at the moment, it is in violation of the telecomms law, and if the shortsighted telecomms policies are fully enforced, Skype could go at any time.

So, who benefits from this law, anyway? Why, it's none other than Alfa and MTC, which have a virtual monopoly on the telecomms market! And don't forget the government can collect all of those taxes that wouldn't be collected when people use VoIP for free or reduced rates!

And what do the Lebanese people think about all of this? Do they even know? Probably not. The Daily Star asks:
Where do civil society groups stand on this core issue? Are they still busy creating awareness about how to lobby local municipalities for water and decent roads? This is not necessarily a call for telecoms privatization, it is high time for a digital user protest and concerted lobbying efforts by consumers, entrepreneurs, and activists alike.
I found that second question odd. I mean, are they saying that water and decent roads are not worthwhile ventures?

The truth is, many Lebanese civil society organizations are not well-versed in the art of advocacy. How are they supposed to tackle such a convoluted issue as VoIP, when most people don't understand what is VoIP?


  1. Bassil -> Energy ministry. Charbel Nahas -> Telecomms.

  2. Bassil was Telecomms minister at the time the law was written in 2008.