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UAE retailers told to stop new BlackBerry subscriptions

Jacky's Electronics chief says it received no prior notice of TRA's ban decision

UAE retailers told to stop new BlackBerry subscriptions
Retailers have been instructed to stop activating new BlackBerry subscriptions.

Electronics retailers in the UAE have been told to stop activating new BlackBerry subscriptions following the announcement that some of the smartphone's services will be banned from October.

"We've been asked to stop activating new subscriptions," Ashish Panjabi, chief operating officer at Jacky's Electronics, which operates 12 stores in the UAE, told Arabian Business.

On Sunday, the UAE's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) confirmed that some BlackBerry services will be suspended from 11th October, as they contravene the Emirate's telecommunications regulations. However, retailers were not informed of the decision before Sunday's announcement.

"No indication as such was given, we were following this in the press along with everyone else," Panjabi said.

Sheriff Rizwan, CEO of online shopping portal ALshop.com, said the decision by the UAE authorities will have a "huge" impact on the UAE smartphone market.

However, he was not surprised by the move by the TRA and said it "was inevitable eventually because [the authorities] are trying to lock down on companies that work on independent platforms and open loop holes."

"We hope something is worked out as the BlackBerry platform definitely does have its fans and we hope to see the UAE finding an amicable solution," Panjabi said.

UAE operators Etisalat and du issued statements on Sunday confirming that they were looking to deliver alternative solutions to BlackBerry customers who face being unable to use services providing email, web browsing, instant messaging and social networking.

However, retailers are currently still in the dark as to what alternatives they can offer new and existing customers.

"It may mean the telecommunications providers need to re-tweak their pricing and service packages accordingly. The indications from both du and Etisalat are that they will communicate something in the next few days as an alternative. Till then we need to sit and wait as we await news from them," said Panjabi.

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