RIM said to be close to UAE VoiP deal

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(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

Research in Motion (RIM), the Canadian maker of the BlackBerry device, is reportedly close to a deal with UAE telecom operators to allow it to offer internet-based voice and video services for the first time in the Gulf state.

The company had to launch its new BlackBerry 10 in the UAE last month without the BlackBerry Messenger Voice (BBMV) feature allows customers to make free phone calls over Wi-Fi.

Zawya Dow Jones said in a report that Du and Blackberry have confirmed that VoIP and internet video testing has begun on the Blackberry 10, and said they expect to launch the service to customers in the near future. Etisalat declined to comment.

"Our partners are currently testing the service. They will announce availability when they're ready," a BlackBerry official in Dubai told the newswire.

RIM has faced resistance in the Gulf to the launch of so-called Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services, because of fears that they would pose a threat to the revenues from traditional voice services offered by the region's carriers.

In 2010, the UAE came close to banning Blackberry services because the government was unable to monitor text messages sent via the BBM system.

The two sides subsequently reached an undisclosed agreement to allow continued Blackberry sales.

Skype, a service which allows users to make phone calls via the internet, is also partially blocked by operators in the UAE.

RIM reported a narrower-than-expected loss in financial results posted in September 2012. A one-time smartphone pioneer, RIM has failed to keep pace with rivals such as Apple and Samsung Electronics, and its stock price has tumbled about 70 percent over the past year while its market share shriveled.

In July last year, BlackBerry services in the UAE faced severe disruption, with users for a time losing access to messaging and email as RIM's network grappled with technical challenges.

Shipments of BlackBerry smartphones were 7.4m in the third quarter of 2012, outpacing Wall Street's expectation of about 6.9m.

The Ontario-based company reported a net loss of $235m compared with a profit of $329m in the same period a year earlier.

The launch of RIM's VoIP service would provide the company with an advantage over rival handset providers who are still unable to provide such services.

BBM is one of BlackBerry's most popular offerings, with more than 60 million active members using the free instant messaging service.

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Posted by: Abizer

Wats the outcome of the testing.. is it going to be supported or no....

Posted by: Simon

I will not take your article seriously as you seem to have missed the fact that it is no longer RIM, the company officially changed its name to BlackBerry. You obviously have missed this very important fact before writing your article.

Posted by: Matt

@Tecoguy... What about all the jobs a free market economy would create..? Further, why would VoIP mean people at Du or Etisalat would lose their jobs...? Please explain.

Posted by: Telcoguy

@Matt, this was in reply to some of Hisham's posts on another thread about Emiratisation, jobs at typing centers and other related issues

Not sure if you are asking seriously, but yes du and Etisalat would need to let people go. VoIP will dent their revenues badly (as it has in every other market), if you compare international rates here with any competitive market and consider that some 80% of the population are expats... you can do the math. At some point there was some report showing that a blue-collar worker spent 25% of his disposable income in communications
And that would eventually hit the availability of easy, well paid, jobs in both organizations (plenty of fat in both of them)
Same like everywhere else

About the jobs created by a free-market economy.... that would involve a longer reply that would probably not be published. Let say that this whole free-market thing is not too popular in this region, Oman being more of an exception.

Posted by: Telcoguy

No, it will be UAE consumers who will reap the majority of the benefits.
And yes, they should allow other companies to do that. But that would endanger du and Etisalat revenue and all the jobs they create. Think of that!

Posted by: Hisham

That would be unfair competition towards other software and hardware companies, and to what benefit should BlackBerry be allowed to do what others are not? It's a Canadian company that will be reaping the benefits of it, not a UAE company. I'd say either allow all to use VOIP based services, or none. Let them be more innovative if they want a competitive advantage!

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