BlackBerry services to continue as normal

TRA confirms decision reached to continue services quashing fears of stoppage from Oct.11

The UAE on Friday cancelled its decision to stop Blackberry services from Monday and said the facility would continue as normal apparently after reaching agreement with the Canadian manufacturers.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), which oversees the country’s communications sector, said Blackberry services are now compliant with the UAE’s telecommunications regulatory framework.

Dealers and users of the phone quickly welcomed the decision, which is expected to sharply boost trade in the device following a steep decline over the past two months because of the previous deadline for a suspension.

“Therefore all Blackberry services in the UAE will continue to operate as normal and no suspension of service will occur on October 11, 2010,” it said.

“The TRA would like to acknowledge the positive engagement and collaboration of Research In Motion (RIM) in reaching this regulatory compliant outcome.”

The surprise announcement, which caught traders and users off guard on their week end, followed negotiations between TRA and RIM over an agreement to make Blackerry services complaint with UAE laws and ensure such services would not pose any threat to the country’s security.

The statement gave no details of the agreement but the UAE has demanded access to all communication through Blackberry and exchanges between users of the device as a protection measure for its safety and security.

“This is a very good decision, which had been expected,” said Imad Hariri, a mobile phone dealer on Defence Road in Abu Dhabi.

“It will allow us to avert big losses as am sure sales will largely pick up after plunging to their lowest level in the past few weeks.”

Another dealer said he expected Blackberry sales to rebound sharply and surpass their level before the announcement to ban its services.

“This statement means that Blackberry services will never be suspended again and operators might start giving new services…this means that we are ahead of a surge in sales that will even exceed sales before the announcement to stop the services,” said Maher Gaddah, another Abu Dhabi mobile phone dealer.

Mobile phone users packed a cellular phone shop on Defence Road on Friday despite the day off. One customer said he wanted to buy two Blackberry handsets for his wife and himself after he sold them last week.

“This is a great decision by Etisalat and Du…we are very happy and hope this agreement will be forever so we can enjoy its services permanently,” said George Matta, a Lebanese expatriate in Abu Dhabi.

In a recent article on the ban decision, a UAE academic said the UAE believes that “freedom is not without limits as it could become chaos and would then endanger its national security and social stability.”

“The UAE’s decision to ban Blackberry services is intended to stave off a confrontation with hostile parties and ideas, which could use a large part of the available freedom for other purposes at a time when terrorists and extremists are striking at countries and criminal gangs are stalking societies,” said Abdullah Awadi, an adviser at the government’s Tanmia, who had worked as teacher of police sociology at Dubai Police Academy.

“The UAE gives priority to its security and sovereignty over anything else…..the UAE exercised the right of its sovereignty when it decided to suspend Blackberry services…any other country taking a similar decision should join the UAE in clearly defining its position regarding its sovereignty without hesitation.”

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia has also reached agreement with RIM following a brief suspension of Blackberry services.


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