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Is there any need for a VPN in the US when doing international business?

Is there any need for a VPN in the US when doing international business?

Old Nov 9, 2023, 1:29 pm
  #1  
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Is there any need for a VPN in the US when doing international business?

My husband is discussing business with a distributor in Oman for work in several African countries. The Omani distributor apparently stopped getting texts. My husband was told to get a VPN. My husband is dutifully beginning to look into a VPN. He knows even less about these matters than me, a scary thought, so I am coming here for advice. Is there any reason for him to use a VPN when he is in the US? How does using a VPN aid communication?
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Old Nov 9, 2023, 6:20 pm
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This is your husband's USA phone number, texting an Omani phone number ?

VPN probably won't help with the above (VPN diverts your internet traffic to another location first , useful when you are overseas trying to acces websites like southwest who block nonUSA traffic).

In your case, seems like your phone provider is having trouble delivering text messages to the Omani phone provider. In the text message, you put the correct country code?
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Old Nov 9, 2023, 6:25 pm
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Originally Posted by paperwastage
This is your husband's USA phone number, texting an Omani phone number ?
Yes

VPN probably won't help with the above (VPN diverts your internet traffic to another location first , useful when you are overseas trying to acces websites like southwest who block nonUSA traffic).
Helpful

In your case, seems like your phone provider is having trouble delivering text messages to the Omani phone provider. In the text message, you put the correct country code?
Yes, he's very knowledgeable about international phone calls.
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Old Nov 9, 2023, 11:24 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
Yes, he's very knowledgeable about international phone calls.
International SMS-type texts are often flakey and often at the whim of either service providers and the government(s) of the day. They're also unencrypted and subject to surveillance. Oman isn't known to be hostile to americans, but if the information going in between (and the subject of the said information) is sensitive enough, it could in theory, be flagged. Don't want to get too into the weeds for this, but something you should be aware of.

My suggestion would be to flip over to a secure messaging app like Signal or whatsapp (more the former than the latter). Communications are encrypted. NOTE: the messages can be edited to a certain extent. If you need to document conversations (eg, CYA), make sure you use a different method of documenting the conversation.
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Old Nov 10, 2023, 9:07 am
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Originally Posted by StuckInYYZ
My suggestion would be to flip over to a secure messaging app like Signal or whatsapp (more the former than the latter).
Just in general, much easier to use a messaging app (or even email) vs SMS/text when dealing with international contacts. I would be surprised if the contact in Oman does NOT have Whatsapp.
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Old Nov 10, 2023, 9:49 am
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I just checked. My husband has been using WhatsApp. The Omani says the messages are blocked.
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Old Nov 10, 2023, 10:05 am
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Some countries restrict or block WhatsApp. It looks like Oman blocks the voice call features but texting should work fine.

There is something else going on here.
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Old Nov 10, 2023, 10:45 am
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
I just checked. My husband has been using WhatsApp. The Omani says the messages are blocked.
Originally Posted by gfunkdave
Some countries restrict or block WhatsApp. It looks like Oman blocks the voice call features but texting should work fine.
Looks like it's a storied history between messaging apps and Oman (quick google). I'd probably check to see if they use another app and evaluate it. I'm not familiar enough with the government of Oman so can't comment on that, but there should be a secure method of communications between your contact and your husband.
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Old Nov 10, 2023, 1:21 pm
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Originally Posted by StuckInYYZ
Looks like it's a storied history between messaging apps and Oman (quick google).
That could explain why he was getting WhatsApp messages while in another African country but stopped when he returned to Oman.

Thank you.
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Old Nov 10, 2023, 11:22 pm
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
My husband is discussing business with a distributor in Oman for work in several African countries. The Omani distributor apparently stopped getting texts. My husband was told to get a VPN. My husband is dutifully beginning to look into a VPN. He knows even less about these matters than me, a scary thought, so I am coming here for advice. Is there any reason for him to use a VPN when he is in the US? How does using a VPN aid communication?
Please check if he is using WhatsApp. What you are describing falls under that bucket (fixable) or to do with APN (something you are less likely to be able to fix).. If WhatsApp, yes, having a VPN will likely resolve. Just a word of caution. Please stick to the majoy players. The others take more than they give.
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Old Nov 11, 2023, 4:23 am
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Originally Posted by SanDiego1K
That could explain why he was getting WhatsApp messages while in another African country but stopped when he returned to Oman.

Thank you.
Speaking with a lack of knowledge , perhaps the suggestion is to use a VPN while in the USA to simulate calling/messaging from that African country? Or some other combination that relies on 'spoofing' his actual location?
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Old Nov 11, 2023, 10:29 am
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Originally Posted by planes&trains
Please check if he is using WhatsApp. What you are describing falls under that bucket (fixable) or to do with APN (something you are less likely to be able to fix).. If WhatsApp, yes, having a VPN will likely resolve. Just a word of caution. Please stick to the majoy players. The others take more than they give.
Originally Posted by Tocsin
Speaking with a lack of knowledge , perhaps the suggestion is to use a VPN while in the USA to simulate calling/messaging from that African country? Or some other combination that relies on 'spoofing' his actual location?
A VPN won't help as this is likely an Oman issue. It is the business associate who would need to use it and depending on the government (again, I'm unfamiliar with the government in Oman) it may cause legal headaches for that person. In many countries, VPNs are illegal or highly regulated (Russia and China being the two biggest known countries with these laws) and carry some significant penalties.

The person will need to find another method of communication (encrypted if possible). Messaging apps tend to be easy targets to block. Some email clients support encryption (or through extensions of some sort if they don't support it directly) It depends on how difficult the government wants to make it and how dedicated (and technically knowledgeable) the other parties are.
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Old Nov 13, 2023, 11:11 am
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The Telecommunications Regulation Authority in Oman blocks all VoIP services, including Telegram WhatsApp, Skype etc. They did say at the end of last year they were open to changes on this so long as these companies follow the ‘rules’ . Sadly the rules in Oman may include allowing government snooping, the only one that I am aware of that works in Oman is Ooredoo Talk on Android. That’s from one of the telecom suppliers https://www.ooredoo.om/ but I have no idea about that app and it’s security and am not vouching for it in any way.

Originally Posted by Oman Observer
The Telecom Regulatory Authority in the Sultanate of Oman is open to adopting changing trends in the sector, it was revealed recently. Speaking to the Observer, Omar Hamdan al Ismaili, CEO of TRA, said, “We welcome companies and programmes or applications that comply with legal frameworks and licenses. We will welcome services such as the OTT or WhatsApp video and audio or other Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services, provided they comply with our regulations.”He added that banning applications have a legal aspect as well as the aspect related to the type of digital content.

On the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), he said, “We follow a flexible policy with the use of VPNs, but if we come across that they have been used for illegal purposes, like in crimes, we do intervene and try to stop such activities. We have certain regulations for VPNs and are currently reviewing their implementation by businesses.”
My bolding
https://www.omanobserver.om/article/...s-accept-rules
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Old Nov 13, 2023, 12:36 pm
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They block the VoIP functionality but not text messaging
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Old Nov 15, 2023, 3:03 am
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Would iMessage not be an option? I understand the cellular number may not be able to enroll in iMessage in Oman, but texting to an Apple ID instead should still work?

Yes, you need an Apple device, but it doesn't need to be an iPhone. Works on iPad, iPod touch and Mac as well.
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