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Internet calling to stay local

The lifting of restrictions on web telephone services in the UAE will only apply to short-distance calls made through the two licensed operators Etisalat and du.

The UAE is to approve the use of the internet to make telephone calls – but only for the country’s two licensed operators, Etisalat and du, and only for local calls.

Voice over IP (VoIP) – which allows users to make free calls over the web – is currently unavailable in the UAE. But following a decision announced yesterday by the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), limited services by the two local operators within the UAE will be permitted.

‘Etisalat and du will be the only operators allowed to utilise VoIP in the local market,’ said TRA director general Mohamed Al Ghanim. ‘Some of the press misinterpreted our press release [regarding VoIP] by suggesting the technology would be opened up to all companies. This is not the case. It will only be Etisalat and du that can provide VoIP.’

The news is bound to disappoint the number of VoIP providers exhibiting at Dubai’s Gitex and Gulfcomms conferences, which opened yesterday. However a spokesperson for one of the companies said that they are using the conference as a base for the Middle East countries where VoIP is permitted.

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