15 Nov 2006
Contrary to reports earlier this month that the current ban on voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) calls in the UAE was to be lifted, the Minister of Communications, Saeed Al Mansouri has said there are in fact no immediate plans to remove the restriction. Any decision to permit IP telephony would have to be in complete cooperation with Etisalat and Du, the minister stated, adding that they would be badly affected by the introduction of the service. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) banned the use of consumer VoIP services such as Skype and Net2Phone last year because they allowed users to make low cost local and international calls via the internet, bypassing Etisalat’s fixed line infrastructure. The TRA is hinting that Etisalat and Du may be given authorisation to offer VoIP applications before the end of the year, although it is expected the cost of such services would still be at a premium to third-party providers.