x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

iMessage will be on-message, telecoms operators promise

Etisalat and du yesterday promised to reinstate Apple's popular iMessage service, after a suspension led to complaints from customers.

Neither Etisalat nor du elaborated on the suspension of iMessage service. Getty Images / AFP
Neither Etisalat nor du elaborated on the suspension of iMessage service. Getty Images / AFP

Local telecommunications operators yesterday promised to reinstate Apple's popular iMessage service, after a suspension led to dozens of complaints from UAE customers.

The service, which is similar to BlackBerry Messenger, poses a threat to operators' revenues because it offers SMS-style messaging at no cost.

Etisalat said it disabled the SMS tool because of an "investigation" by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

Rival operator du said that it also suspended the service, which works on Apple devices such as the iPhone and iPad.

The ban on iMessage, which was imposed without warning, was first reported late on Saturday.

However, both UAE operators last night pledged to reinstate the service. "The iMessenger service issues will be addressed shortly and service will be resumed," said a spokesman for Etisalat.

Neither operator elaborated on the reason behind the suspension.

Etisalat had earlier claimed that iMessage, along with Apple's video-calling service FaceTime, was not permitted in the UAE.

"Dear customers, please note that FaceTime has been disabled by Apple, as for iMessage, it is currently under investigation with the TRA," Etisalat wrote in a message on the social networking site Twitter.

"iMessage and FaceTime are not enabled due to local regulations, shall there be any changes we will announce it," it said in another.

However, the TRA denied that there would be a full block on the service.

Mohamed Al Ghanim, the director general of the TRA, told The Nationalthere was "no intention to block iMessage".

Many iPhone and iPad users yesterday complained about the ban. Some said they were also unable to receive "push" notifications from other applications such as Facebook. Along with allowing Apple users to send free SMS-style messages to each other, iMessage enables them to share files.

Last year BlackBerry Messenger was threatened with a ban in the UAE because of national security concerns. It was eventually averted following last-minute talks between the handset manufacturer and UAE authorities.

bflanagan@thenational.ae