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Tue 28 Jun 2005 04:00 AM

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Oman Skype block due to end shortly

Popular VoIP service Skype’s web site should be back online in Oman soon, after the company Omantel uses to filter out and block offensive sites accidentally blocked it last month.

Popular VoIP service Skype’s web site should be back online in Oman soon, after the company Omantel uses to filter out and block offensive sites accidentally blocked it last month.

Access to Skype.com in the Sultanate was first blocked last month, which in turn led to Skype news sites such as SkypeJournal claiming that this was due to the Skype software's “unlawful circumvention of (Omantel’s) telephone system.”

However, a source at Omantel today told ITP.net that Skype’s blocking was not in fact a legal, or even a conscious decision.

“We use a third-party company to filter out offensive sites, such as those containing pornography,” the source explained. “However sometimes the company’s database does block some sites that it shouldn’t. Skype.com is one example. We have ordered the company to open this site back up, and it should be live again anytime now.”

He went on to further explain Omantel’s web site blocking policy, claiming that only pornographic sites should be blocked, rather than sites offering consumer VoIP services, such as Skype and Net2Phone.

Omani users should therefore be able to download Skype’s popular VoIP software, buy SkypeOut phone credit (required for PC to landline calls) and SkypeIn phone numbers within the next few days.

Earlier this year, Skype.com was blocked in the United Arab Emirates. According to the country’s telecommunications regulatory authority (TRA), Skype’s provision of voice services direct contravened the country’s Telecom Law, thus the incumbent telco, Etisalat, was ordered to block skype.com.

The UAE’s telecommunications industry is at present, like Oman’s, monopolistic in nature, although a second telco was recently announced, provisionally called WAM. This organisation is due to begin offering services in early 2006. Etisalat is also said to be working on a VoIP service of its own.

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