The move comes just weeks after Skype was blocked in the UAE
Etisalat has launched a new calling plan that allows customers to use two voice over internet protocol (VoIP) apps, less than two weeks after UAE residents complained that Skype service was blocked in the country.
The unlimited calling plan from Etisalat includes two VoIP application – C’Me and BOTIM – for both iOS and Android devices. The plans are available to Etisalat’s prepaid, postpaid, and e-Life home broadband customers for a fixed rate of AED 52.50 a month on mobile devices and AED 105 over a computer using the eLife account.
Etisalat said C’Me and BOTIM both meet the UAE’s regulatory framework requirements to operate in the country. New VoIP apps may be added if they meet the requirements, the statement added.
Du offers similar internet calling packages, also offering C’ME and BOTIM as the only options.
Earlier in January, UAE residents reported disruptions to their Skype VoIP services, prompting Etisalat and du to warn that VoIP services remain regulated unless they meet the licensing requirements set by the country’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).
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.”
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.