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UAE to lift ban on cheap web calls

Authorities are working to phase in the introduction of internet telephone services.

The UAE's telco regulator is weighing up how best to introduce voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services in the country.

The Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) yesterday announced that it was studying market reaction to VoIP, according to a report in local newspaper Khaleej Times.

"We are working on a phased approach to allow VoIP to be introduced to the local market," Mohammed Al Ghanim, director general of the TRA, reportedly said.

A timeline for the introduction of VoIP has not yet been fixed, he added.

VoIP, the routing of voice conversations over the internet, is currently heavily proscribed in the UAE, as well as other parts of the Middle East, and the use of Skype is frequently blocked.

While the introduction of VoIP has been widely anticipated in the UAE, Al Ghanim last year said that only Etisalat and du would be allowed to provide such services.