Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services are blocked in the UAE, the country’s telecom operators have warned residents.
Responding to a number of queries by local residents on Twitter in recent days, both du and Etisalat have warned that VoIP services remain regulated in the UAE unless they meet the country’s licensing requirements.
In response to a December 30 Twitter post calling for Skype use to be permitted, Etisalat, for example, noted that “access to the Skype app is blocked since it is provided unlicensed Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service, which falls under the classification of prohibited contents as per the United Arab Emirates’ regulatory framework.’
Similarly, du responded to a Twitter message asking the company to “reconsider” the ban noted that “any unauthorized applications or services that are providing VoIP calling services are not supported in UAE.”
The comments from du and Etisalat come after many local residents took to social media to note that VoIP services, such as Skype, were disrupted.
A long-standing statement on the website of the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) notes that VoIP services “are considered part of the UAE’s regulated activities.”
“The TRA has granted licensed operators the eligibility to provide such services across their networks,” the statement notes. “Companies wishing to provide such services should coordinate with the UAE’s licensed service providers in this regard.”
As alternatives, both du and Etisalat offer legal VoIP-apps Botim and C’Me as part of “unlimited” voice and video call services, available for a monthly fee.
In April, local media reported that UAE Federal National Council member Saeed Al Remeithi urged the TRA to drop the ban, calling it an “embarrassment” for the UAE, which prompted TRA Director-General Hamad Al Mansouri to note that VoIP services are blocked for security and cybercrime concerns.
In September, authorities in neighbouring Saudi Arabia announced that voice and video calling apps would be “widely available” to residents in the kingdom, a move that the country’s communications and technology ministry said would reduce operational costs and encourage digital entrepreneurship.
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