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Voice over IP restrictions limiting business growth

The UAE’s ban on voice over internet protocol (VoIP) websites and their related services is slowing down the growth of business in the Emirates, according to respondents surveyed at itp.net.

A recent poll run over the past four weeks asked visitors to the popular technology portal, ‘Do you feel the current VoIP (voice over internet) restrictions in the UAE are limiting your business’s potential growth?’.

Of the 1796 users that responded, more than three quarters (just under 79%) answered ‘Yes, very much’, with a further 10% confirming, ‘To a degree, yes’. Only 11% of respondents thought the VoIP ban was having no effect on their organisation’s growth.

VoIP websites, such as Skype.com and Net2 Phone.com, have been banned for months - and in some cases years - in the UAE.

However in recent weeks, incumbent telco Etisalat, operating in line with the UAE regulator’s Telecom Law, has begun tightening the reins still further, with even users who run ‘pre- ban’ installations of popular VoIP applications now reporting that these no longer work.

According to a report published in the UAE’s Gulf News newspaper last month, the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has defended its decision to block VoIP services in the country, claiming that such services “should be treated just like conventional mobile and fixed line services and therefore need licensing”.

A TRA official apparently also confirmed that VoIP will soon be barred in any areas of the UAE that are currently still able to access such services.