Ethiopian Ban on VoIP Not Real?

by Matt Paulson

Last week we posted a blog about a Skype and VoIP service ban in Ethiopia that had been reported numerous times throughout the VoIPosphere. This week, a spokesman from the Ethiopian government has made a statement to the contrary.

Shimeles Kemal, the spokesman, explains what's really going on in a story posted by AllAfrica, an African aggregate news organization. Yes, a proclamation was drafted and presented to the parliament, but it did NOT mandate a ban on VoIP or IP-related activities. The Government Communication Affairs Office released a statement with the same message.

The law is geared toward restricting unlawful use of the Internet by unlicensed service providers. Officials aim to prevent providers from earning income on illegally bypassing the nation's telecom service, not to restrict VoIP use on a personal basis. Internet cafe users making calls are not subject to the harsh punishments detailed in the proclamation; the lofty sentences are meant to intimidate illegal operators.

According to Kemal, more than $50 million has been lost this year alone to independent phone operators and it is causing financial damage to the national service. If that is the case, it is no small wonder they are making moves to minimize the losses.

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