Skype hype

The news that Skype is planning on opening an office in Bahrain could be good news for users

Tags: BahrainIPhoneSkype Technologies
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By  Gareth Van Zyl Published  August 24, 2009

News reported on ITP.net and Arabianbusiness.com about Skype opening an office in Bahrain, elicited numerous responses from readers. The news that Skype is planning on opening an office in Bahrain though is hopefully a sign that greater cooperation between Skype and some regional mobile operators is on the cards.

One reader went on to comment about this story, saying, “Just wait until someone tells the CEO of Etisalat about Google Voice. If he thinks Skype is bad...these people really don't know what's going to hit them in the near future. They're completely unprepared for the 21st century and have a business model based on 1970s phone systems”.

Another reader went on to say, “Technology and human survival will go together in the progress of humanity and the wealth needs to be shared and not concealed by the nations to feed their own selected companies or people. Skype has the hurdles and we hope an open minded government may open the space for the technology of Skype to move forward”.

The argument behind ‘blocking’ Skype in countries such as the United Arab Emirates is that it protects the mobile operators from losing profits. From one perspective, this is a fair point, especially when one considers that above eighty percent of the UAE’s population comprises expats and that many of these expats will want to use Skype when making international calls to their loved ones back home.

Furthermore, the UAE has a very small population, only around five million people according to recent reports in newspapers such as Gulf News. This renders the telecommunications market in a country such as the UAE very small and vulnerable in comparison to other markets in the rest of the world. I can understand why mobile operators such as Etisalat and du don’t want Skype in the UAE.

And it’s not only companies such as Etisalat and du that are trying to protect their market. The controversy surrounding Apple recently blocking the Google Voice application in the United States for the iPhone illustrates as to just how much fear there is surrounding competitive voice services.

With Skype introducing an office in the Gulf, it might be a good idea for the likes of Etisalat and du to seek ways of working with Skype to develop greater co-operation. Many consumers are unhappy about the fact Skype is ‘blocked’ in their country, and it isn’t an ideal situation when people will end up resorting to finding ‘workarounds’ for accessing Skype in countries such as the UAE when they can easily access it in many other places in the world. Let’s hope that all parties involved will consider working together.

Gareth Van Zyl is the deputy editor of Windows Middle East English.

2955 days ago
Godfrey

Does anyone have an idea if they have already signed in for the license to operate in bahrain?

3032 days ago
Telco guy

I find surprising your use of the concept of fairness here: "The argument behind ‘blocking’ Skype in countries such as the United Arab Emirates is that it protects the mobile operators from losing profits. From one perspective, this is a fair point, ..." Wow, this surely brings a new meaning to "fair". I could accept that it is "convenient" for etislat shareholders, I can accept that "it is the way ti is" (and of course the corollary "if you do not like...") But fair? Please explain me how preventing consumers from benefiting of lower prices, and specially as you point those on the lower end, is "fair". This is nothing more than a tax on communication that hits disproportionately those on a weaker economic position (with no pc and no knowledge of how to sort out the blocking). And yes Ross, it is blocked. If the people you intend to call have no PC (as it is going to be the case most likely for laborers families), you can not easily recharge your account as you need to make an Skype to phone call.

3032 days ago
ross

you can install iskoot on your blackberry too :) Iskoot links into your skype account and allows you to chat on the go. Since its Ramadan I thought it only fair I should share this information.

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