Telegram messenger, the most popular communications app in Iran, voice calling service has been blocked by judicial order.
According to local technology news website, Zoomit.ir, the service was blocked on Monday.
The website said the deputy minister of communications and information technology, Mahmoud Khosravi, and directors of local mobile operators have confirmed the implementation of the ban.
The judiciary — or any other official body — has not offered any reason for the order yet.
According to tests by users of the app, no one is able to connect to each other using the service. The phone rings, but when the user answers the call, the application just says “connecting”.
The service was launched in Iran on April 13, two weeks after its initial launch in Europe.
Telegram founder Pavel Durov tweeted that the new feature was blocked on several occasions over the course of the week.
One Twitter user, M. H. Abdollahi, asked Durov, “Some Iranian news said that Telegram disabled voice call by itself in Iran and operators didn’t filter. Is it true?
Durov wrote on his personal authenticated account to the user, “No, this is a lie. Telegram didn’t block voice calls in your country, your providers/authorities did that.”
He previously tweeted on April 16 saying “Yes, we have activated calls for our users in Iran, but Iranian operators started to filter them. I think you should complain to them.”
Following Durov’s tweet, the public relations department of MCI (Hamrah-e Avval) MTN-Irancell and RighTel — Iran’s three largest mobile operators — in separate official statements announced the companies have nothing to do with blocking of any service.
Later on the service was available and worked for four days.
Last week Mahmoud Vaezi, the telecoms minister, said the ministry was studying the possible launch of Telegram calls in the country.
He said, “Telegram officials and the government are in talks about the planned launch of the service in Iran. The primary concern is its inevitable impact on the business of Iranian mobile network operators.”
Iranian mobile operators were apparently reluctant about the launch of the Telegram call service and the negative impact it can and will have on their earnings.
Whatsapp, another messaging app owned by Facebook, has offered both voice and video calling for over a year. Meanwhile, Skype, which also offers a mobile version, can do the same.