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Etisalat boss claims telco is VoIP-ready

Etisalat says it is ready to offer VoIP once regulators set rules

The UAE's largest telco, Etisalat, is technically ready to offer international Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) services to UAE customers, its boss has claimed, however such a rollout will not be possible until the UAE's regulator - the TRA - has defined service terms and conditions.

"In terms of technologies and infrastructure, we are ready to provide the service," Ahmad Abdul Karim Julfar, Etisalat's chief operating officer, said at the Microsoft Government Leaders Forum in Abu Dhabi last week.

Julfar explained that due to VoIP not having yet been regulated he didn't have a firm date for any VoIP launch, suggesting this could be in 2008 or 2009. "I don't know but it is on the regulator's agenda," he added.

An itp.net source at the TRA today elaborated further, explaining that ‘local' VoIP services - those involving calls from a PC to landline- and mobile-phones within the Emirates - had already been regulated for the UAE's two licensed operators, Etisalat and Du, but added that international VoIP services had yet to be regulated.

The source also agreed with Mr. Julfar's prediction, suggesting that international VoIP calling rules would be put in place either in 2008 or 2009, adding that the TRA "hopes for 2008", and also saying that it was looking carefully at the VoIP problems experienced in other markets with a view to making sure excellent VoIP services were available in the UAE from day one.

Commenting on the likely effect of a future VoIP rollout on the UAE economy and Etisalat's bottom line, Julfar last week concluded: "It is ultimately good for the economy because we have to adjust tariffs and fees, and given the scale of our business in 16 markets, we do not expect a huge effect."

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