x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

A step towards Skype

News that the UAE's telecoms regulators are talking to Skype will be music to the ears of many expatriates wishing to keep in touch with family and friends back home.

Looking for a sure-fire investment? Try video-conferencing cameras: sales may be about to skyrocket. As The National reported yesterday, Skype, the world's leading voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service, may be allowed by UAE telecoms regulators.

"We have been working with Skype and other voice over internet protocol providers to see if their services could be established here," said Mohammed al Ghanim, the director-general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

Those words will be music to the ears of many expatriates wishing to keep in touch with family and friends back home. Of course, for several years now, many have circumnavigated the ban, but they have been breaking the law.

The sheer popularity of the service has been crying out for a solution. With more than 560 million subscribers, Skype has been growing by leaps and bounds. As well as low-cost international calls to land lines, the service includes file transfers and video conferencing, which has morphed from a business tool into an intimate way to keep in touch with family and friends.

In these days of instant messaging and e-mail, Skype makes these functions seem almost antiquated. And who has actually posted a "snail mail" letter recently? In a country with so many expatriate residents, an easier link to families abroad should be welcomed. Now it is up to the TRA to strike a deal that would benefit many.