DUBAI // Telecom regulators are in talks with Skype to launch the internet communication service legally.
The Skype website is blocked in the UAE but many residents have found ways to download the software and use it to make international phone calls, either free or at a fraction of the usual cost.
"We have been working with Skype and other voice over internet protocol (VoIP) providers to see if their services could be established here," Mohammed al Ghanim, director-general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), told a forum in Dubai yesterday.
Skype is the world's most popular VoIP service with more than 560 million subscribers. It is a concern to telephone operators because it accounts for at least 12 per cent of international calls worldwide.
Until now officials have said the only way for foreign VoIP providers to operate legally in the UAE would be as partners with existing licence holders such as Etisalat and du.
Providing nationwide broadband access would be the focus of the TRA for the next few years, Mr al Ghanim said.
"It has been proven that having high-quality and widespread broadband access enhances a country's economy, both public and private sector," he said.
"The liberalisation of data centres and cloud computing will be the next big issues for the industry," Mr al Ghanim added.