UAE telcos need to catch up
Home internet usage appears to be on the decline as mobile-savvy surfers abandon their desktops for their smart phone. But can the UAE telcos keep up?
December 15, 2010 3:26 by Eva Fernandes
And in between all of this, the TRA appears to have busied itself with the task of slowing down the usage of VoIP services, in particular Skype. It’s a more moderate approach than the outright ban declared in previous years, but the result is the same – for most, Skype doesn’t work.
TRA Director General Mohamed Al Ghanim says, “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. We have been working with Skype and other VoIP providers to see if their services could be established here in the UAE.” Kipp is not holding its breath.
Regardless of this apparent need to “protect” customers, it seems mobile internet is out pacing home internet and the regulators in this case, too. The availability of Black Berry Messenger and other products like iPhone’s FaceTime (which has been now been banned in the UAE) means mobile users can talk and communicate with their counterparts who have similar devices and services overseas for free. Yes, FaceTime has been banned, but rest assured, there are plenty of other programs out there that offer the same service.
So, where do we go from here? Perhaps the telcos will resort to increasing the price of mobile broadband to dissuade users from abandoning their good ol’ home internet. We sincerely hope not, as this would be a step back for the country in its ambitions to be a serious place to live and work.
Part of the problem is definitely the duopoly in which the two different-but-not-quite companies operate in. If Kipp’s said it once, we’ve said it at least a thousand times before: being in part government-owned and lacking any real competition provides telcos with no incentives to improve or make themselves relevant to the market they serve. Increase the competition and they may catch up with the consumer.
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