Wondering why WhatsApp has been down since Thursday?
Many Qatar residents have been facing difficulties in putting voice calls through the Internet, although there is no official statement yet on banning Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in the country.
Social media was flooded with queries and concerns from residents who have been effectively using VoIP to place calls through free-to-download messenger apps such as WhatsApp.
The cost of using such services is very low as it uses the Internet to put through voice and video calls as well as text messages.
Many residents said they faced problems since Thursday morning using WhatsApp video or audio for calls outside Qatar.
A resident wrote on social media, â€œI thought that my internet at home is poor but is not. I get connected to people within and outside Qatar on WhatsApp but I am not able to hear anything.â€
Another resident said, â€œIt is a sad situation, but glad to know it was not just me. I reset my smartphone many times, but since there was no result, I took it to my retailer. He told me voice and video calls through many popular free-to-download messenger apps are not working in Qatar.â€
Although not specifically related to the current situation, Qatarâ€™s policy on VoIP has been explained by the communications regulator Communications Regulatory Authority (CRA) under the Ministry of Transport and Communications.
In its website the CRA said, â€œVoIP is a technology for the delivery of voice services using existing internet infrastructure and services. There are no laws or rules that prohibit the use of such technology within the State of Qatar.
â€œThe Telecommunications Law 34 of 2006 does, however, makes it illegal for any person to provide telecommunications services to the public for a direct or indirect fee without a licence issued by ictQATAR for that purpose.â€
Currently, the only two entities licensed by ictQATAR to provide such voice services to the public in Qatar are Ooredoo and Vodafone Qatar.
In summary, the Ministry of Transport and Communications said Qatarâ€™s position on VoIP is that any person or business within the State of Qatar may use VoIP services for voice calls for their own use.
It also said, â€œictQATAR is committed to encouraging the availability of the latest technology to Qatari citizens and residents.â€
Residents with further questions about Qatar’s VoIP policy have also been encouraged to contact ictQATAR by email at email@example.com or by calling its consumer help line at 103.
When Gulf Times contacted CRA, a spokesperson said, “We have already initiated an investigation into this.”
Ooredoo Qatar issued a statement on its social media channels on Thursday evening, saying: “We have noticed that some customers are experiencing quality issues when calling using VolP applications, and would like to assure you that the problem is not with our Ooredoo Supernet.”