Skype is still banned in UAE: TRA

'VoIP services Skype are still unauthorised'

The disappointing Skype saga continues for the UAE’s residents.

Even as the country’s Etisalat customers were rejoicing and Du customers were waiting for the telecom operator to announce its official position on the ‘unblocking’ of Skype, the country’s telecom regulatory body has nipped the joy in its bud by ruling that Skype’s VoIP services remain “unauthorised” in the UAE.

In a statement posted on the TRA’s website today a link to which was transmitted by the body’s media department, the authority noted that there has been no change in the country’s VoIP policy, and that “VoIP services Skype are still unauthorised”.

Ouch!

Here’s the statement:

“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 unauthorised.”

There, then. It seems that Etisalat and Du will need to seek the TRA’s approval, and Microsoft will need to ensure that Skype fulfils TRA’s regulatory and technical requirements for the app to be ‘legal’ in the UAE.

Meanwhile, the Skype website remains accessible on both Etisalat and Du networks – but as well aknow this too well, that could change again anytime.

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