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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

Years ago I had a friend who, if he felt you were letting yourself or somebody else down, would tell you in no uncertain terms you needed to “have a word with yourself.” I’ve loved the saying ever since. Now it could be time for us all to say that to Etisalat and Du.

The two telco providers of the UAE are not particularly popular. They might point to figures showing how popular they both are, but since the UAE operates as a duopoly and in almost every residence in the country you don’t get a choice between them, it’s fair to say that these figures are a poor indicator.

Speak to people out there on the street, and you will hear moans and howls and occasionally genuine anger at the shoddy service we “enjoy” from our telecommunications industry. And there is no more frustrating topic in telecoms than VOIP (Voice over Internet Protocol).

VOIP is basically using the internet to handle voice traffic in the form of phone calls and video calls. And in this part of the world, it is unwelcome, because it is generally free or extremely cheap and it means people use VOIP for international calls instead of paying a telecoms provider. And in the Middle East, telecoms companies are often an important source of income for governments. That’s one explanation, here’s another: “Today the world is changing to IP. With regards to internet telephony, only the telecom service providers in the UAE are licensed to offer VoIP services and they have started to provide these services already. This measure is set in place to protect telecom customers, as if a company is not registered with us, we cannot intervene or help should a problem arise.” That’s according to Mohamed Al Ghanim, Director-General of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

However, it now appears the attitude of the TRA toward VOIP options such as Skype could be softening. The National reports that the TRA will no longer enforce the ban on Skype. The paper says it is “a sign that the UAE could be shifting its stance on internet telephone services.”

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