Video app not blocked in UAE: TRA

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The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has quashed rumours about Twitter’s free live video streaming app Periscope being blocked in the UAE.

The TRA has confirmed that contrary to last week’s media reports and the ongoing social media debate about the subject, Periscope is facing technical issues, which the authority is working to resolve.

Commenting on reports regarding the blocking of video streaming apps in the UAE, published by some media outlets, along with discussions by users on various social media platforms, the TRA clarified the following last week:

“Immediately after discovering the issues users have been facing with the #Periscope app in the UAE, TRA’s technical team have spent the past 48 hours investigating the matter… in coordination with both operators. We have discovered a technical problem and are working to resolve it within the coming few days.”

While one-on-one VoIP-based video and call services including Skype, Viber, WhatsApp calling, etc. remain barred in the UAE, Periscope is available for users.

“The TRA stresses on its role as the regulator in this context, especially in light of its devoted efforts towards upgrading the information and communication technology infrastructure and laying the foundations for smart cities and smart government, as well as ensuring the UAE’s leading position on a global standard,” the TRA reiterated.

Read: Free WhatsApp Voice Calls in UAE: TRA clarifies what's allowed

Users in the UAE had been facing issues with the app for more than a week before the TRA’s response came.

Through @periscopehelp, its online helpline, Twitter said on August 20: “We’re aware of Periscope service interruptions in the UAE on WiFi & cellular networks. We’re investigating & working to restore access ASAP.”

According to Twitter, @Periscopeco is an intuitive, live-streaming app that allows users to get a glimpse into the lives of the people they follow. The app was launched on March 26, and Twitter announced on August 2 that it had crossed 10 million users in its first four or so months.

The livestreaming war is getting hotter, with Facebook last month unveiling ‘Mentions’, which is available to verified public figures on Facebook as a way to interact with their fans and followers in real time.

Since last year, Google’s YouTube already has a ‘Live Broadcast’ feature for administrators of channels that are ‘verified’ and are in ‘good standing’. This feature got a shot in the arm this month with the launch of Samsung’s Galaxy Note 5 and the Galaxy S6 edge+ which come preloaded with the feature.

Read: Samsung Galaxy Note5, S6 Edge+: 6 killer features, 1 fatal flaw

Both the Note5 and the S6 edge+ feature 4K video filming and Live Broadcast, which let users instantly live-stream full HD video straight from their phone to any individual, group of contacts, or even the public through YouTube Live.

“Anyone who receives the YouTube link from a Note5 or Galaxy S6 edge+ user is able to enjoy live stream video from his or her smartphone, tablet, PC or Smart TV with YouTube connectivity,” Aladdin Hijazi, Samsung Gulf Electronics’ IM Training Manager, said at the Dubai launch of the devices.

VoIP-based services in general remain barred in the UAE and only licensed providers (Etisalat and Du) are allowed to offer such services, as per the TRA.

“VoIP are considered part of the UAE’s regulated activities,” the regulator told this website in a statement earlier this year.

“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,” it noted in the statement to Emirates 24|7 in April 2015.

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