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‘VoIP services through Skype are still unauthorized’ – TRA

Will Skype be permanently banned in KSA

We have one VoIP application, two telecom operators and an endless stream of confusion. . .

April 8, 2013 3:25 by



Latest Update: Since Etisalat made its semi-official announcement (below) that Skype is once again accessible to residents in the UAE – the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has responded with an official statement:

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority announced that the Telecommunications Law and the TRA’s VoIP regulatory policy allows only the Licensees (i.e. “etisalat” and “du”) to provide telecommunications services in the UAE including VOIP services. This policy has not been amended.

As to what the licensees have done in unblocking Skype’s website www.skype.com in the UAE, this action does not change the position of the TRA or amend the policy as this service is considered a Regulated Activity, therefore, it must be provided by a licensee. Should the service be provided through a partnership with a third party, both Licensees must seek approval to  provide such service after fulfilling the regulatory and technical requirements of the TRA, which has not happened in the case of Skype. VOIP services through Skype are still unauthorized.

 

Previous story on Etisalat below:

Looking out for something meaningful or newsworthy on Twitter can easily be compared to rummaging through piles and piles of old clothes at a garage sale (yard sale). You might find something worth clinging on to, but you have to patiently filter out all the worthless junk first. Quite often, though, an entire story can be based on a Twitter post or ‘tweet’.

For instance, the word ‘skype’ has recently been trending on the social network. The trend coincides with Etisalat’s announcement that the application is now officially unblocked and accessible to all residents in the United Arab Emirates.

Etisalat hasn’t released an official statement, but instead made casual social media posts last week to confirm the news.

Here’s a screen shot but we can’t seem to find the original post anymore. We suspect that the telecom operator wasn’t too ecstatic about promoting Skype’s accessibility to their customers because, in essence, it would be promoting competition.

It appears the original posts were deleted but fear not, Emirates247 reports that the telecom operator confirmed to them on Twitter that “it’s now accessible to all Etisalat users : – )”. Yes, there was a smiley face.

Of course, Kipp suspects the smile wasn’t entirely wholehearted, because it’s a well-known fact that allowing Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) in the country translates to a loss of revenue for the telecom operator.

On the other hand, du (the UAE’s second telecom operator) hasn’t even confirmed this news through a tweet, let alone an actual statement. In fact, there’s been confusion among residents about whether Skype is indeed legally accessible as far as du is concerned. Both its website and application have been unblocked on du’s network and yet, at the end of March, the telecom provider – despite users being able to download skype – has denied officially allowing access.

When Kipp contacted du over Twitter – because that appears to be the norm now – their response was: “We’ll have more info on that for you soon.”

To wrap up, we’ve had Skype blocked once with an official confirmation and unblocked once with no confirmation (du). Now we have an unblocked access with a confirmation and still the same unblocked access with no confirmation. My head hurts.



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