Thousands lose cheap calls as Du blocks Skype

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Thousands of people can no longer make cheap calls to family and friends abroad after UAE telecom Du banned internet phone service Skype, the latest in a string of recent internet restrictions rolled out by the operator.

Residents living in Dubai's free zones and freehold developments owned by Emaar Properties and Nakheel first noticed disruption to their Skype service last week, complaining that although they could access the Skype website they could not make phone calls over the internet.

In a statement emailed to ArabianBusiness.com, Farid Faraidooni, Du commercial executive vice president, confirmed a partial ban was now in place.

“Du complies with all the guidelines of the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) with regard to content filtering. Accordingly, as per the TRA's instructions, only PC to phone and phone to PC communications are blocked - voice over internet protocol (VoIP),” Faraidooni said.

Du's actions appear to contradict comments made by CEO Osman Sultan in an interview with ArabianBusiness.com in April, in which he said subscribers would not lose access to Skype under new internet restrictions.

Du in April joined rival telecom Etisalat and began filtering internet content through the UAE proxy server. Previously Du subscribers had unfettered access to the web.

The proxy server blocks websites that contain content pertaining to pornography, alcohol, gambling, hatred, child abuse or terrorism, according to the TRA.

At the time Sultan said only websites with "offensive" content would be blocked under the new filtering policy.

The TRA is currently finalising new regulations covering internet access in the UAE, with the 'Internet Penetration Policy' expected to be published before the end of this year.

On Monday Du issued a press release offering cheaper international calls to its customers. For each second of an international call, customers will receive one fil of free credit.

The Freetime offer began on Monday and applies to Du mobile customers.

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Disclaimer:The view expressed here by our readers are not necessarily shared by Arabian Business, its employees, sponsors or its advertisers.

Please post responsibly. Commenter Rules

Posted by: aisha

etisalat is very expensive to talk in Asia if etisalat estiblished its own voip and than close the cheap international calls facility sites it was better to people because many people are in trouble that how they talk with their families .

Posted by: Valerie Houghton

If you want to engage in the offensive behaviours and "sights" mentioned in the article; go to Emirates Mall-pornographic advertisements, people abusing kids with hand slaps and jerking movements, and of course, alcohol is available. And the gambling part can be satisfied with the drive home! No ban in place!

Posted by: bek

use 'Hotspot Shield' for all skype & other VoiP services including blocked web's. it is very easy! got ? then =>satellite1001@mail.ru

Posted by: Imaginatrix

VoIP PC to PC _within_ UAE was permitted. Those that got away with 'cheap' International calls did so due to a 'technical glitch' not due to lack of regulatory guidelines - so consider yourselves lucky that you got away with it for so long. If you have problems with du's quality of service - raise that as a separate issue with du. Don't confuse these two very distinct and separate issues. In fact - if you did some research ? you'd realise that the tra has a complaints system for dealing bad quality of service from the licensed telcos. Now there?s a thought..... do something about the service or lack thereof rather than just complaining Ad nauseam about it. Oops! gotta dash; my Skype phone is ringing ;-)

Posted by: haya

i get why du would block offensive things but there are some sites that are being blocked for no reason. like flickr it's just an art site what's wrong with that? okay yeah it does have some nudity but that's a form of art, it's artistic nude not porno. and when browsing in it you have the choice whether to look at bloody, gore, nude photo's or not so that shouldn't be a problem for people who are sensitive to those stuff.

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