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Du “open” to enabling Skype and WhatsApp calls in the UAE

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Last month many people experienced problems using Skype in the UAE, while others found that they could make calls with WhatsApp messager for a short time. Despite the confusion, the UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said that its policy on VoIP services had not changed.

Since then there has been discussion about whether there should be a formal agreement between UAE operators and VoIP providers.

Addressing the issue, the chief commercial officer of du, Fahad Al Hassawi, has told The National that the operator has no issue enabling VoIP calling services on its network, provided that there is a signed formal agreement between the network and providers first.

“We have an open invitation to any provider, be it WhatsApp, Skype or whoever, to come and partner with us, and we can come up with the right offering that falls within the licensing requirements here in the UAE.

“There’s an obligation on us as operators to make sure that we’re offering such services according to the terms of our licence from the regulator,” Al Hassawi said.

The proposed partnership comes just one month after Skype issued a public statement acknowledging the fact that its service was no longer available in the UAE.

“It has been brought to our attention that our website and services have been blocked by both of the ISPs in the United Arab Emirates. That means you won’t be able to use Skype in the United Arab Emirates.

“Unfortunately, there is very little Skype can do about this situation. The best course of action would be for you to speak to your ISP and ask why they are blocking Skype and request that they unblock our site and services.”

As a response, the TRA issued its own statement on the matter: “Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) are considered part of the UAE’s regulated activities. The TRA has granted licensed operators the eligibility to provide such services across their networks.

“Companies wishing to provide such services should coordinate with the UAE’s licensed service providers in this regard,” the official statement read.

So it seems that it may be down to Skype and WhatsApp to enter into discussions for a formal agreement.

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