x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Regulator confirms UAE Blackberry ban is final

Du, the UAE's second-largest telecommunications operator unveils its range of alternative mobile offerings for BlackBerry subscribers who will be losing the service.

Du has been forced to provide new packages for customers after the telecoms regulator announced plans to suspend some BlackBerry services.
Du has been forced to provide new packages for customers after the telecoms regulator announced plans to suspend some BlackBerry services.

Du, the UAE's second-largest telecommunications operator, unveiled its range of alternative mobile offerings to satisfy BlackBerry subscribers who will be losing the service in October. The annoucement came as Mohammed al Ghanem, the Emirates's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority confirmed that his agency's decision to suspend BlackBerry service as of October 11 is "final", according to WAM, the state news agency. "We remain open to discussions in order that an acceptable, regulatory-compliant solution might be developed and applied," Mr al Ghanem added. The operator announced a range of "assurance plans" for individuals and businesses who have subscribed to its BlackBerry service offerings before August 1 to migrate to other mobile plans and devices. BlackBerry service in the UAE is set to be suspended after the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority said it will freeze messages being sent with the device on October 11, claiming concerns that it is not able to adequately monitor sensitive data. Du offers a standard plan for BlackBerry customers who wish to maintain basic telecoms service in the UAE with a Dh130 monthly package for national subscribers and Dh260 month for international users. Both packages include 1,000 free text messages. If customers wish to enter a 12-month contract with du, they can either choose to sign up for an unlimited data bundle worth Dh55 per month for national usage or Dh130 per month that includes 20 megabytes of international data. Customers will also be given between Dh1,500 to Dh3,000 to purchase a new smartphone, depending on what tiered service they already subscribe to. Business subscribers will be given similar packages that vary between Dh100 to Dh200 per month. "Our offerings are built on two fundamental pillars," said Osman Sultan, the chief executive of du during a press conference today. "One, to minimise completely any disruption of services that are used ... and two, no financial impact on customers." There are approximately 100,000 BlackBerry du subscribers out of a total of 500,000 users in the UAE who will be affected by the service suspension. More information on du's service plan can be found on its website - www.du.ae. If the TRA's planned suspension was settled before October 11, du's new mobile offerings would be removed, Mr Sultan said. Etisalat, the UAE's largest telecoms operator, revealed its alternative mobile packages yesterday. Mr Sultan said that du's offerings are only valid within the operator's own subscribers and will not be available to any existing Etisalat BlackBerry customers.

dgeorgecosh@thenational.ae