An infamous ban on video calling apps such as Skype and FaceTime could soon be lifted within the U.A.E. after reports emerged that the local telecoms regulator is in talks with their respective parent firms to allow the use of such applications.
A report in the Arabic daily Al Ittihad quoted the Telecommunications and Regulatory Authority (TRA) director general Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri as saying that the government is holding talks with Microsoft and Apple to unblock Skype and FaceTime in the U.A.E.
The decision comes in the light of investments done by both Microsoft and Apple, TRA said.
Voice-over-internet-protocol(VoIP) apps are illegal in the U.A.E. though the country’s telcos offer a paid version of them. Despite such restrictions, Skype was available to users until January this year. Meanwhile FaceTime is not available in iPhone handsets purchased within the country.
Although legal VoIP apps are available, users have often pointed out to its added cost. Legal VoIP apps Botim and C’Me charge a monthly fee to avail their services. Local telcos charge a fee of AED50 for internet calling using mobile data and AED100 for internet calling using WiFi.
In 2016, FNC member Saeed Al Remeithi called U.A.E.’s ban on WhatsApp Call and Snapchat Call an “international embarrassment” after the country blocked Snapchat call. The 32-year-old urged the authorities to amend its rules and make VoIP publicly available.
Social media users within the U.A.E. welcomed TRA’s latest move to unblock Skype and FaceTime while many voiced hopes that the ban would be lifted at the earliest.
Unlike other Gulf countries, the U.A.E. has just two telcos leading to a duopoly in the market.
Source Credit: Forbes Middle East