Gareth van Zyl thinks there needs to be more clarification on the TRA's stance on VoIP as it's confusing that Du does not block the Skype website
Thousands of people in the UAE are using Skype every day, with many people downloading Skype from inside the country in what seems like perfectly legal behavior. People with a Du internet connection can visit the Skype website, download Skype on their PC and use it to make phone calls to other PC Skype users.
Here’s where the confusion starts though. If Etisalat is obliged to block the Skype website, why doesn’t Du block it as well, especially in a country where Skype is apparently supposed to be illegal?
According to a statement from Du in mid-2008, the company “completed the blockage of the telephone aspect of VoIP provider Skype. Subscribers to the operator are now no longer able to make, or receive, calls to mobiles or fixed landlines from their computers. PC-to-PC calls are still possible. All access to Skype for subscribers to Etisalat, the UAE's other telecom operator, has been blocked for over two years.”
The TRA also confuses the situation more in my opinion.
I quote the TRA Frequently Asked Questions web page: “it is illegal to use such software to make calls (e.g. Skype-out/Skype-in), unless this third party (e.g. Skype) is licensed by the TRA to provide such services or a Licensee provides the service in collaboration with this third party.”
Skype is not licensed by the TRA to provide such services; so, surely Du or Etisalat cannot let users use Skype in any way?
But let’s fast forward further down the TRA’s FAQ web page, where the issues of what the liabilities are of using a service such as Skype.
The TRA says, “any person using VoIP Services which are not provided by a Licensee (even if not offering it to others for a fee), may be committing a criminal offence”.
Right, so, my understanding of this statement then is that Du is technically providing a VoIP service by allowing users to make and receive VoIP PC to PC calls on Skype, which wouldn’t render this activity as a criminal offence as long as the end-user only makes PC to PC calls using Skype on a Du connection.
Du, in my view then, are taking advantage of what I think is the above-mentioned exception to the rule, and Du are using this exception as a competitive edge. The average expat consumer in the UAE could prefer to use a Du internet service if they know they can phone people in their home countires on what is (albeit limited) PC-PC Skype usage.
I think the TRA needs to come out with a more clarified and easier to understand stance on VoIP, because I’m sure Du doesn’t want its customers to get knocks on their doors from authorities telling them they’re legally liable’ for making a Skype call…
1180 days ago
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1191 days ago
I quote the TRA Frequently Asked Questions web page: “it is illegal to use such software to make calls (e.g. Skype-out/Skype-in), unless this third party (e.g. Skype) is licensed by the TRA to provide such services or a Licensee provides the service in collaboration with this third party.” -------------------- This means Skype can be legal in 2 cases: 1. If Skype gets a license from TRA to provide its service. 2. if Skype provides its service in collaboration with du or etisalat (the licensees)