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Tue 19 Apr 2016 12:20 PM

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UAE telcos 'urged to permit internet calls'

Experts call on Du and Etisalat to free up ‘over the top’ internet calls after ban called “embarrassing”

UAE telcos 'urged to permit internet calls'
(Getty Images)

The UAE’s two telecoms operators should free up internet-based calling services and update their business models, technology experts have reportedly claimed.

Both Du and Etisalat this month blocked Snapchat calls, meaning calls any so-called over-the-top (OTT) function – which also includes Whatsapp and Viber – is restricted to the two licensed telecoms providers.

It prompted the youngest member of the UAE’s Federal National Council (FNC), 32-year-old Saeed Al Remeithi to describe the ban as an “international embarrassment” during a council meeting last week.

Both Etisalat and du have said that any company wishing to provide such services should discuss the matter with them.

However, The National on Tuesday reported that technology experts had insisted OTT calls were here to stay and Du and Etisalat should tweak their business models accordingly.

Rafid Fatani, head policy analyst at technology consultancy Access Partnership, was quoted as saying: “[Internet voice calling] does not have to be a money-losing proposition for telecom operators.

 “Successful telecom operators in developed economies have realised that these services are here to stay, and have figured out ways to monetise them without the need to block them.”

Understanding the shift in user behaviour should help telecom operators to cash in on these new trends," he said.

Possible solutions for telecoms firms to recoup revenues included pricing data by speed and developing their own apps to compete, Fatani added.

And Matthew Reed, Dubai-based practice leader for Middle East and Africa at Ovum, said the large number of expatriates in the UAE should make international calling a significant revenue driver.

“If the restrictions were lifted and they were offering more attractive calling packages, they might find they won’t lose out by lifting the restrictions,” he said.

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james 3 years ago

Saeed is correct, this is an international embarrassment.
It is all about actualising the Smart City dream for Dubai.
Let us hope Etisalat and Du fulfil their roles effectively. What a pity they have to be reminded.

Mark 3 years ago

Saudi Arabia and the UAE block Whatsapp, Line and FaceTime calls. All that money from oil and they do not let people call home. Whether it be tourists visiting or expats working in the UAE, people need to call home and having a ban on this is not good.