UAE regulator to decide on Skype, internet calls by Dec.

Winner of mobile TV licence bids limited to UAE and Gulf firms also by year-end.

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By  James Exelby and Reuters Published  October 19, 2008

The United Arab Emirates' telecom regulator expects to decide by the end of the year on a proposal to allow international calls through the internet, the head of the regulator said on Sunday.

The news was confirmation of a statement made to Arabian Business last month, in which, however, the regulator mentioned no timetable.

Currently, telecom operators Emirates Telecommunications Corp (Etisalat) and du can provide only domestic calls using Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) technology.

"We have been doing consultations with the sector ... We want to upgrade the VoIP to include international phone calls for licensed operators hopefully before the end of the year," Mohamed Al-Ghanim, director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), told newswire Reuters.

The TRA is working on a plan to allow local and international companies with a local presence to provide VoIP services after being licensed, Al-Ghanim said on the sidelines of an information technology exhibition.

In October 2006, Al-Ghanim said the ban on VoIP would be lifted that year, allowing the Gulf Arab state's large expatriate population to make cheaper overseas calls over the Internet.

Internet-based calls through providers such as Skype and Yahoo have been deemed illegal in the UAE since 2004 and the relevant websites have been blocked.

TRA will announce in December the winner of a recently announced mobile TV licence that will allow the winning company to provide broadcast television to Etisalat and du, Al-Ghanim said. Only UAE and Gulf Arab companies were allowed to bid for that licence, he added.

3863 days ago

Well, if you think they will allow Skype or other VOIP to operate, then SALIK will also be removed from all the roads. Think seriously. You don't kill the goose that lays the golden egg. Do you?

3864 days ago

that I understand Etisalat and Du actually re-route a significant proportion of International Calls through the Internet and end up with worse quality than direct VOIP, and on top of that we pay them top dollar for the privilege. Is this fair?

3865 days ago
Salim ALSuwaidi

It was a very silly reason why they were blocking it for that they are not sure of the Voice Call from the Internet if it's clear or not. Believe me Once Skype is operating here, Du and Etisalat will do crazy offers for International calls but still will never beat internet international call prices at all, Never, And another thing might happen,, Skype credit will be on sale in many places and i think it will vary in prices from shop to another, Better buy from their Site Direct if they have this.

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