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Tue 9 Sep 2008 06:13 AM

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Skype access could be returning to UAE soon

EXCLUSIVE: Telecoms regulator is developing framework for VoIP operators in the region.

UAE residents longing to regain access to popular internet phone service Skype could eventually see their wish granted, the head of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has announced.

Mohamed Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, told Arabian Business that Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services had been unlicensed in the UAE since the TRA began operations in 2004.

“Customers and even those (VoIP) companies think that we are blocking them, but we are not blocking them – we are putting a process together for those companies to be licenced and this will take some time. There are challenges associated with it.

“When we licence a company in the UAE, we make sure they have a presence, so if you pay your bill and the company does not provide you with a service, there is a way to recover your money. Customers need to be protected.

“There are many issues to be considered. For example, some of those companies provide very bad voice quality. If you are providing telecom services you have to be licensed as per the UAE Telecom Law," he said.

Popular website Skype allows users to make cheap international phone calls via the internet, rather than fixed phone lines.

Al Ghanim said the TRA was developing a framework for VoIP providers.

“Once we finish our work, then these providers can come to the UAE. We are working on it and we will announce it in due time.”

Meanwhile, Etisalat and Du are licenced to provide some aspects of VoIP services to their customers, he added.

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Sanjay 11 years ago

Skype takes USD 10 - 25 per time and until u exhaust it - there is no requirement to refill. Why would people go running to TRA complaining of a lost USD 25 in the worst case scenario? Seems like it will be a long time till we see the Skype!!

Graham Plater 11 years ago

What a load of nonsense. According to TRA, VoIP operators need to be licensed to safeguard the public! Hey, what customers truly need is protection from the pervasive greed of the authorities manifested through telecom monopolies, Salik, visa fees and a myriad of other more or less well-concealed taxes in the form of "charges", "fees" and the like. When will the bubble burst?

Wilhelm Niederhauser 11 years ago

What a cheap excuse "We are protecting customers, and some of those companies provide very bad voice quality". Skype is used globally, and noone has complained of being cheated by Skype. If the voice quality is bad, the decision to avail of their service should be up the user and not to TRA. The real reason: The telecom companies want to maintain their billion profits.

Andy 11 years ago

What a feeble excuse, nonsense, laughable...when are they going to stop lying about this? They just should tell us "we won't do anything about it, we area a monopoly and we want all your money and we want higher profits while we can so live with is! I'd rather prefer them to be straight bullies than acting like idiots, they are not fool they know very well what they are doing, that is typical of a mafia and they get away with is...sorry for them (Salik, Etisalat, RTA...JUST GANGSTER) not for the real benefit of this country and its real hard working people.

Graham Plater 11 years ago

Come on, Andy - the "hard working people" you mean are not very high on the UAE agenda. They're treated as disposable and not as a valuable "human resource" deserving appreciation or, dare I say it, respect. The first time I saw Wafi, visions of ancient Egypt sprang to mind - and history repeats itself whichever building site I see...

Aadil 11 years ago

I agree entirely. End the Telecoms Duopoly.

Clay 11 years ago

TRA blocked all voip services since 2004 and its taking them 5 years to come up with a "framework" and licensing procedures? How bold they are to come up with an unbelievable reason like this! I say WHATEVER!! I will continue to use voIP through other means!

Jack 11 years ago

You can still set up web connect like calls using products like AIM Call Out. It calls one phone then connects it to the other. So that you are not using the typical PC to phone set up. Its a novel way at getting low rates. Plus the quality is pretty good!