Morocco's three major mobile phone operators blocked free calling services provided by Skype, WhatsApp and Viber on Wednesday, leaving many mobile users severely disgruntled.
The move by Maroc Telecom, Meditel and Inwi - which dominate the country's telecom market - is the first time the three companies have banded together to block free calling features on the popular mobile applications.
Maroc Telecom had blocked the free calling feature on Skype, WhatsApp and Viber a few months ago, but soon reinstated apps.
Free messaging and photo and video sharing services are still available on the apps for customers using the main mobile networks.
|I used to call my husband who lives in Holland everyday through Skype|
Many users were left angry and confused at the decision to block free calling features, while customers pay monthly fees to connect to the internet of their mobile devices.
"I'm angry. I used to call my husband who lives in Holland everyday through Skype and WhatsApp," said Laila Majdi.
Some mobile users took to social media to vent their frustration at the decision that many interpreted as an effort to eliminate competition.
While the mobile networks have not explained the move, Ridwan Majahid, a cyber security researcher, believes that the decision was due to financial and security considerations.
"We don't have data on the number of people who use these applications but they certainly undercut the profits of the mobile companies by providing free calling services," Majahid told The New Arab.
"The security aspect is due to the difficulty in monitoring the use of these applications, especially with the growing security threat posed by extremist groups."
According to official figures, Morocco has 43.01 million mobile users, with some 11.25 million users that access the internet on their mobile devices.