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After banning VoIP, Morocco's largest ISP blocks online gaming

Madouu

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Jan 24, 2010
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Yup, you've read it right, Maroc Telecom, the biggest internet service provider in Morocco has stealth banned online gaming in the country. I believe this is the first large scale ban on all online games to ever happen in the world.

Now before I go into the details of the matter, let's start with some context first. For those who don't know, Morocco is a North Western African country, at the gates of Europe, that prides itself in its modernity and stability relative to other countries in the region. The country has 3 ISPs, but the historical and largest company (Maroc Telecom) controls the biggest share of the internet market over here.

Last January, in quite the unexpected move, all three ISPs decided to completely ban VoIP services. The following apps audio and video chat got blocked: Skype, Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook messenger and Google Hangout. Here are a few quotes from an article about this particular matter for the people that want to learn a bit more:

Moroccans and expatriates have taken their fury against the blocking of voice over IP (VoIP) calls to social networks, and have called for the boycott of the North African country's telecommunication operators that implemented the ban.

There are now growing calls for Moroccan king’s intervention to put pressure on the firms to restore internet call services.

Maroc Telecom, Meditel and Inwi, the three telecommunication service providers in Morocco, welcomed the New Year of 2016 with the ban of free mobile internet calls made through mobile phone connections.

Skype, Viber, Tango, WhatsApp and Facebook Messenger are among the applications whose VoIP calls have been blocked by telecom operators on 3G, and 4G connections in January and ADSL connections in February.
A lot of popular outrage, almost exclusively on social media which are extremely active in Morocco as in other countries in the region, followed, forcing ISPs to finally react and deliver a statement saying that it was an ANRT's ruling, a supposedly independent regulatory agency.

Morocco’s Telecommunications Regulatory National Agency (ANRT), which was behind the ban, justified its decision by stating that none of the services providing voice over IP (VoIP) or other "free internet calls" had the required licenses.
Fast forward a few months for a new development: Last Monday, a new set of VoIP applications that had escaped the ban until now got blocked (imo messenger for example) by Maroc Telecom. More importantly, this was accompanied by what seems to be a stealth ban on all online video games in the country. As I am writing this, it is almost impossible to play a online game from here.

At first, this was thought to be simply the ISP suffering from technical difficulties, but when asked about the issue, Maroc Telecom has remained to this day strangely silent. Users all over the country have quickly realized that they all suffered from the exact same issue, There is currently a lot of outrage on both facebook and twitter towards the ISP. People suspect, and I am among those people, that this a direct consequence of the VoIP block being extended to applications that weren't affected before. Moroccans on the internet are calling it a "ban on online gaming".

Interestingly, and I will be using dota 2 as an example for the following, pinging game servers directly reveals absolutely no issues (I have done more extensive tests of course, this is but a sample):

while when trying to play this happens (if you ever manage to connect):

Huge amounts of packet loss and almost instant DCs, unplayable and it is the case for almost every single other online game.

Now I am no expert on telecoms, and if anyone has any input on this, it would be greatly appreciated as people are trying really hard to make sense of this with the limited information we have access to, but It is suspected that a large array of ports are being filtered, and given very low priority in treatment causing huge amounts of packet loss. This seems to be the method used to block these apps. Online games seem to be the collateral damage.

Why post this on an international forum? Simple, to give this piece of news the visibility it deserves, a lot of people even here are completely unaware of it, especially since gaming carries an even more negative stigma over here than in developed countries, and secondly to maybe stir some debate on the reasons and techniques used for this ban.

I am hoping to help put pressure on the ISP to at least respond to all of the complaints they have completely ignored up until now. Also, an online petition has been started today by some members of the Moroccan gaming community, which is almost at 10k signatures, but I doubt it will achieve much as these are even less effective than in more advanced countries. Here is the link anyway: https://secure.avaaz.org/fr/petition/Maroc_Telecom_Debloquer_le_jeu_Online_au_Maroc/?cvvLJkb

As you can see, net neutrality is in quite a sad state over here, and we might be currently watching the first live experiment of what happens when the principle is not respected. (at least in a country generally regarded as non despotic)

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/boycotts-appeals-petitions-restore-blocked-voip-calls-morocco-1520817507
http://www.medias24.com/MAROC/MEDIAS-IT/164024-Apres-la-Voip-des-gamers-accusent-Maroc-Telecom-d-avoir-bloque-des-jeux-video-en-ligne.html
 

...Scatter...

Banned
Nov 27, 2013
4,105
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Let's not give Comcast any ideas. The people of Morocco need to stand up. (Peacefully). I want to see northern Africa be prosperous and a part of the global world.
 

Compsiox

Member
Jul 6, 2014
13,001
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820
Let's not give Comcast any ideas. The people of Morocco need to stand up. (Peacefully). I want to see northern Africa be prosperous and a part of the global world.
Lol holy shit. The internet mob would hunt down and kill every higher up at Comcast.

You think I'm kidding but no, people are insane.
 

ps3ud0

Member
Sep 27, 2013
2,536
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Wow forces against net neutrality in action - never thought Id see it...

Surely the Moroccan government can act?

ps3ud0 8)
 

DR2K

Doesn't buy fighting games to actually play them
Jun 6, 2009
22,193
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is there a law that requires applications to have licenses in Morroco or are Telecoms doing it just because?
 

vareon

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Feb 5, 2007
12,797
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Not anywhere
That sucks. Indonesia is kind of close to this, with talks of blocking OTT services (last was Netflix) because they don't pass regulations and all crap like that. Every person here knows it's because the telecoms don't get their part of the pie.
 

Madouu

Member
Jan 24, 2010
4,320
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Astounding. I guess I don't quite understand WHY they are bringing these measures about. Who is benefiting?
The current suspicion is that online games being blocked is a consequence of the mass filtering on ports used for VoIP. Like I said, I am not a technical expert on the matter, and I would really love to hear from people who are better versed on the subject, but the fact that this coincided with the second wave ban on VoIP programs lets me think that there's a direct link between the two.

Now as far as why is VoIP is banned? Well, I believe the reason is simple, Moroccan Telecom companies revenues have dwindled when it comes to voice calls in the last three years as people have flocked to apps such as skype and whatsapp to talk to their relatives, especially abroad. The regulatory agency ruling was clearly influenced by Maroc Telecom lobbyists pushing for new laws that could help them regain some of those lost clients.

Tried any online games that don't have built in voice chat? Wonder if it's any different.
It was my suspicion that would this affect games with voice chat exclusively, but I tried Mario Kart 8 earlier, and the online won't work. Other people are reporting the same for Smash. I believe the issue affects almost every single online game.
 

Madouu

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Jan 24, 2010
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Talking out of my ass, but, have you tried using a VPN? Or did they ban those too.
VPN works but they come with their lot of issues, first of all, it's obviously just a band aid. Secondly, not everyone has access to quality VPNs as buying online internationally with Moroccan credit is pretty difficult. Finally, the servers being most often in Europe or in the US adds quite a bit of latency, which is already pretty high, making the solution far from being optimal.

I tried tweeting this thread to some shows like ETC news, maybe it will float. Hopefully.
Thank you! I am convinced that the more international visibility this gets, the faster we will reach a solution.
 

Empty Space

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Aug 25, 2011
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565
Tried any online games that don't have built in voice chat? Wonder if it's any different.
This might be what it is. The VoIP in game voice chat can circumvent whatever blocks they had before and to deal with that they just blocked all game traffic.
 

Madouu

Member
Jan 24, 2010
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is there a law that requires applications to have licenses in Morroco or are Telecoms doing it just because?
The following law exists:

ANRT points out that, in reference to Article 1 of Decision ANRT / DG / No. 04-04 on the status of IP telephony, commercial exploitation of the IP telephony service and the traffic carriage for a third party can only be done by telecom licensed operators.

It underlines that any commercial exploitation is prohibited and punishable in accordance with article 83 of Law 24-96 on post and telecommunications.
The issue is that the commercial exploitation is already done by the ISP, while Skype for example, does not get paid for calls made through the app, not directly at least. The ruling should, in theory, be void.
 

Dash Kappei

Not actually that important
Apr 8, 2005
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Friend of mine told me that the suspicion is that they've blocked it because people were using console's services (PSN/Live/Mumble/in-games voice chat...) to avoid the VOIP ban.

It really sucks.
I'm glad that, for all its problems (and there's a lot), at least living in an EU Country means that Telecoms attempting shit like this wouldn't fly and where ADSL/Fiber/Cable ISP don't implement limited data like you see rampant in Countries such as Canada.
 

Inuhanyou

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Jul 26, 2014
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Now as far as why is VoIP is banned? Well, I believe the reason is simple, Moroccan Telecom companies revenues have dwindled when it comes to voice calls in the last three years as people have flocked to apps such as skype and whatsapp to talk to their relatives, especially abroad. The regulatory agency ruling was clearly influenced by Maroc Telecom lobbyists pushing for new laws that could help them regain some of those lost clients.
.
Neoliberalism essentially destroys everything everywhere, yet again.

If huge monopolistic corps see a situation going south for them in any area, there's no way they don't try and rig the game to the detriment of you and me
 

Vex_

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Jan 29, 2015
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It really sucks.
I'm glad that, for all its problems (and there's a lot), at least living in an EU Country means that Telecoms attempting shit like this wouldn't fly and where ADSL/Fiber/Cable ISP don't implement limited data like you see rampant in Countries such as Canada.
Agree. As someone leaving in the US, I'm glad as well. Our internet may not be consistent all over our nation, but we fake it till we make it. And we can do what we want with it.
 

CadetMahoney

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Mar 14, 2009
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There are a lot of Moroccans who play kof 2002 on Fightcade/GGPO. A game which has the highest number of players out of all the Fightcade/GGPO games including SF2 turbo / 3s.

Are these Moroccans no longer able to play?
 

ps3ud0

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Sep 27, 2013
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Try nmap instead of ping - ping wont work with TCP/UDP ports, should be able to use a UDP webtool like this or TCP version - just be careful what ranges you put in

Its likely whatever ports VoIP uses (either SIP or RTP) that have been blocked/de-prioritised it impacts gaming (indeed DOTA 2 ports fit within the large RTP port range).

ps3ud0 8)
 

tebunker

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Nov 28, 2006
3,291
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Neoliberalism essentially destroys everything everywhere, yet again.

If huge monopolistic corps see a situation going south for them in any area, there's no way they don't try and rig the game to the detriment of you and me

"Neoliberalism" and Morocco don't really go together. You actually think that Morocco is liberal?

Sorry Digital, but you don't understand the use of the word here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is in effect laissez-faire economic liberalism, or free market economies, non-regulations etc. Unfettered Capitalism.

So what Inuhanyou said makes sense, in that, these companies gorged themselves for decades, but eventually their market was pulled from under them, and now suffering at the same market fates they benefited from, they turn on their markets and use the government to coerce their market to return. So it is a failing of neoliberalism in that true free markets rarely exist or operate well for a long time.

General liberal failure
The least controversial aspect of neoliberalism has often been presented by modern economists critical of neoliberalism's role in the world economic system. Among these economists, the chief voices of dissent are Joseph Stiglitz[121] and Paul Krugman.

Both use arguments about market failure to justify their views on neoliberalism. They argue that when markets are imperfect (which is to say all markets everywhere to some degree), then they can fail and may not work as neoliberals predict, resulting in some form of crony capitalism. The two chief modes of failure are usually due to imperfect property rights and due to imperfect information and correspond directly to Friedrich Hayek's assertion that classical liberalism will not work without protection of the private sphere and the prevention of fraud and deception.

The failure of property rights means that individuals can't protect ownership of their resources and control what happens to them, or prevent others from taking them away. This usually stifles free enterprise and results in preferential treatment for those who can.
There is a lot of this happening in the states too. See the coming regulation of the gig-economy, and the gnashing of teeth as that collapses. Combined with the total falling apart of our own high speed infrastructure. There are so many houses of cards that were built on the belief of a free market, when there is no such thing as a pure free market. Businesses spend lots of money to protect revenue streams instead of truly innovating and creating new markets (which is harder and more expensive).

Not going to debate economic policies here, as I believe there are good things to take out of almost all economic concepts and I believe there is no one right method
 

B4D1E

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Feb 19, 2013
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My sister told me yesterday about the VOIP ban, as I told her I wasn't able to join my mom via viber since she went to Morocco last week.

But damned they went too far... I wonder if the king will take the matte into his hands. I have shared the story to AJ+, they cover all sorts of news on Youtube. I hope they'll make a video about it, so this shitty practice will begin to get some coverage. Because here in Europe, I never heard about it.
 

DigitalScrap

Gold Member
Jan 21, 2015
1,648
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Sorry Digital, but you don't understand the use of the word here.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neoliberalism

Neoliberalism is in effect laissez-faire economic liberalism, or free market economy omies, non-regulations etc. Unfettered Capitalism.

So what Inuhanyou said makes sense, in that, these companies gorged themselves for decades, but eventually their market was pulled from under them, and now suffering at the same market fates they benefited from, they turn on their markets and use the government to coerce their market to return. So it is a failing of neoliberalism in that true free markets rarely exist or operate well for a long time.



There is a lot of this happening in the states too. See the coming regulation of the gig-economy, and the gnashing of teeth as that collapses. Combined with the total falling apart of our own high speed infrastructure. There are so many houses of cards that were built on the belief of a free market, when there is no such thing as a pure free market. Businesses spend lots of money to protect revenue streams instead of truly innovating and creating new markets (which is harder and more expensive).

Not going to debate economic policies here, as I believe there are good things to take out of almost all economic concepts and I believe there is no one right method
Ah, thank you. That makes sense now. Glad to see the word being used in a traditional sense (I see it thrown around all the time incorrectly in recent times, which I guess is why I had an admittedly knee jerk interpretation).


My sister told me yesterday about the VOIP ban, as I told her I wasn't able to join my mom via viber since she went to Morocco last week.

But damned they went too far... I wonder if the king will take the matte into his hands. I have shared the story to AJ+, they cover all sorts of news on Youtube. I hope they'll make a video about it, so this shitty practice will begin to get some coverage. Because here in Europe, I never heard about it.
I doubt that the King will see any problems with the move. To the best of my knowledge, the government still owns a large stake in Moroc Telecom (although Vivendi now has the majority stake). The government has used their influence to censor many things on the internet in the country (such as anyone speaking out against the king).

It really is a shame too - as someone who has spent some time there, I can say that the people there are great and very welcoming/accommodating - but the government can be rather heavy handed.
 

crinale

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Sep 25, 2008
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Banning skype isn't Morocco only issue so I've heard.
Actually the ISP I'm using in my country has added a statement to ToS that users aren't allowed to use skype or any sort of P2P application, though they still work. ISPs seem to be concerned about handling many connection via P2P rather than having VoIP because other VoIP services are still allowed.
 

Mechazawa

Member
May 31, 2011
8,137
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Banning skype and online video games seem like the type of actions that would be liable to getting your head cut off by the general populace.
 

Madouu

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Jan 24, 2010
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OP, is porn blocked in Morocco too?
Porn is not blocked in Morocco and has never been. I don't think there is much political will to ban it either.

There's a country with possibly worse ISPs than Canada?!
Guess where I spent the last six years before coming back here. Yes I know all about the monstrosity that is Bell, the days of throttling, caps, trying to pass UBB, and the crazy prices. I might be cursed.

There are a lot of Moroccans who play kof 2002 on Fightcade/GGPO. A game which has the highest number of players out of all the Fightcade/GGPO games including SF2 turbo / 3s.

Are these Moroccans no longer able to play?
So far I've seen complaints from all platforms and games, PC, consoles, handhelds, someone even tweeted that he could not use flying simulator anymore without constant disconnects so I would guess that the Fightcade community is probably also affected sadly.

Try nmap instead of ping - ping wont work with TCP/UDP ports, should be able to use a UDP webtool like this or TCP version - just be careful what ranges you put in

Its likely whatever ports VoIP uses (either SIP or RTP) that have been blocked/de-prioritised it impacts gaming (indeed DOTA 2 ports fit within the large RTP port range).

ps3ud0 8)
This is precious information, will try asap.

I doubt that the King will see any problems with the move. To the best of my knowledge, the government still owns a large stake in Moroc Telecom (although Vivendi now has the majority stake). The government has used their influence to censor many things on the internet in the country (such as anyone speaking out against the king).
.
People over here jokingly say the only way for this to change is for the current prince (heir to the throne) to secretly be a gamer.

About Maroc Telecom, the company is now owned by Etisalat (emirates telecom company) after Vivendi sold its shares in 2014. Government still owns around 30%. Censorship is definitely a problem, but it is very rare that websites are blocked (lakome comes to mind), nowadays media are mainly controlled through ad revenue (most ad agencies belong in a way or another to what we call the makhzen, another word for the state).
 

IvanJ

Banned
Aug 21, 2014
2,147
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I am 97% certain that they've read the article about terrorists using PS4 to communicate, and decided to preemptively strike to stop them.
 

red731

Member
Apr 22, 2011
10,925
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Was thinking about this and wanted to ask what are the prices of roaming, calling in from different countries?

ISPs block, operators have a field day.
 

LCGeek

formerly sane
The less power telecommunication companies have, the better for everyone.

That really freaking sucks, OP.
The industry in this country isn't any better.

1. Most of it refuses to acknowledge that AQM can alleivate a lot of problems.

2. A lot of network capacity sucks so the bufferbloat and network latency in general is more strained. If networks were properly built to handle loads with AQM the entire us infrastructure would be better.

3. UDP is still treated like shit at most ISPs.

But hey you all have good bandwidth peaks that can't be sustained during peak hours but brag about them speedtests that won't change your gaming or voip services that much.