Skype confirms that it is blocked in Qatar

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

Popular video and voice calling service Skype has confirmed that it is now blocked in Qatar.

In a post on its FAQ pages, the company said that usage of the app was being stopped by ISPs (internet service providers) in Qatar.

Stating that there was “very little Skype can do about this situation,” it added:

“The best course of action would be for you to speak to your ISP and ask why they are blocking Skype and request that they unblock our site and services.”

Skype’s statement follows a message from Viber to its users last month stating that the service was “now unblocked” following a software update:

The statements from Skype and Viber finally offer some insight into the widespread problems people are having with VoIP apps in Qatar.

Residents first started noticing issues when trying to use Whatsapp, Viber, Skype and Facetime in late August, shortly before Eid.

No public announcement

Despite repeated requests from Doha News for comment, Qatar’s two ISPs, Ooredoo and Vodafone, have remained silent on the VoIP issue.

Vodafone / Facebook

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

However, Ooredoo did release a statement over the Eid break denying that it was behind the problem:

“Quality assurance for calling using these apps is out of Ooredoo’s control. However, we can guarantee that the issues are not from Ooredoo Super net. Eid Mubarak.”

Meanwhile, Qatar’s telecoms regulator, the CRA, initially told the Gulf Times that it had launched an investigation into the issues.

However, it has made no further comment and has not responded to any of Doha News’ requests for more information.

Facetime developer Apple and the team behind Viber have also not yet responded.

Ongoing frustration

For the vast majority of Qatar’s residents, VoIP is a lifeline, providing a cheap, easy way to stay in touch with loved ones who don’t live in the country.

Many people have taken to social media in recent weeks pleading for answers from their ISPs:

However, although the most popular apps have stopped working, there do seem to be some workarounds.

Skype link to QNA hack

It remains unclear why Qatar ISPs have blocked VoIP services.

But the government did say that the hacking of Qatar News Agency earlier this year involved the use of Skype.

Pixabay

Photo for illustrative purposes only.

The planting of a fake news story on QNA triggered the current GCC crisis. In a statement about it, the Ministry of Interior said:

“On April 22, the hacker exploited a vulnerability in the website, installed the malicious programs and intruded into the network.

The vulnerability was shared with another person via Skype, who accessed it at 5:47 am from an IP address of one of the siege.”

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