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Etisalat and Du, this is your wake-up call

Etisalat and Du, this is your wake-up call

As the TRA’s patience with UAE telcos appears to be running out, Samuel Potter says it might be time for Etisalat and Du to have a word with themselves.

January 10, 2011 2:22 by

Apparently the regulator said: “The licensees will have the right to block [VoIP] traffic,” but “The TRA does not mandate the licensees to exercise this right.” It added that Etisalat and Du were “entitled to allow a subscriber to use their internet services for Skype if they wish, or alternatively to provide their own ‘Internet Telephony’ services”.

As the paper and analysts have observed, it hardly clears the grey area, but the shift in language suggests the TRA’s patience regarding the high cost of international calls in the country is wearing thin. “One could read this as a very tentative hint that the TRA is pushing [VoIP] towards the operators and that it is less interested in enforcing on VoIP,” said Matthew Reed, a senior analyst with Informa Telecoms and Media.

Don’t get too excited. Though the TRA may be slightly more relaxed about Skype, as you have seen it says it is up to Etisalat and Du whether to block it or not. Since it will cost them both if they unblock it, we won’t hold our breath.

That’s why it’s time to say to Etisalat and Du: Have a word with yourselves. You are serving a country packed with international businesses and an international workforce, and our international communications are too dear, thanks to you (and according to reports there is no prospect of things improving). Your users and the country are desperate to enjoy the benefits that VOIP can bring, and you are stopping that from happening. If you’d have come up with your own alternative we might have lived with it, but you have maintained the status quo and that benefits you and no one else.

Our best hope in this is Du. The plucky upstart has really taken the fight to Etisalat over the last year in terms of prices, contracts and services; if it were to allow – and maybe even promote – Skype, it would win over a legion of fans. With that sort of support, when network sharing eventually happens, it could clean up country wide.

So please, for all of us, have a word with yourself.

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