Facebook may ‘lift’ Skype ban for UAE users

Social networking site in talks to offer users use of Skype. (GETTY/FILE)

Facebook Inc, the world's biggest social-networking company may offer UAE net users a way around the current ban on Skype in the country.

According to media reports, Facebook is in talks with SkypeTechnologies SA to offer web video calls to its 500 million users, two people familiar with the discussions said.

Video calling between friends on Facebook was first discussed by the two companies last year, said one of the people, who asked not to be identified because the talks were private. The feature wasn't offered in an October update to Skype, which did include voice calling between Facebook friends.

The UAE has moved to open up VOIP use in the country with the TRA, the regulatory body saying it was up to the two telecom operators to move the technology further.

As Web users adopt new ways of communicating, such as video and mobile messaging, Palo Alto, California-based Facebook has added features to give members more ways to keep in touch. Bringing video calls to its social network would ramp up competition with Apple Inc., which introduced the feature on its iPhone in June, and with Google Inc., which offered Web calling through Gmail in August.
Video calls accounted for more than 41 per cent of all Web calling between Skype users in the second half of last year, the company said in January. Luxembourg-based Skype registered with the US Securities and Exchange Commission in August to sell its shares to the public.

"Last year, we announced the integration of Facebook in Skype, so people can keep up to date with their Facebook friends through News Feed in Skype and even call and SMS their Facebook friends on any phone from Skype," Facebook said in an e- mailed statement. "With regards to any further integration, we don't comment on rumor and speculation and have nothing to announce at this time."

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