x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

'No change in access to Skype service', says UAE mobile operator

Take our poll: One UAE telecoms providers denies that it has unblocked the internet phone service Skype, saying that 'there has been no change in the treatment of VoIP traffic'.

Subscribers to du can now access Skype but the telecom operator denies it has unblocked the service in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National
Subscribers to du can now access Skype but the telecom operator denies it has unblocked the service in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National

abu dhabi // The telecoms provider, du, denied yesterday that it had unblocked the internet phone service, Skype.

On Tuesday, subscribers to du’s mobile and home broadband services found they could access Skype’s website, and make calls from Skype to mobile and fixed phone lines – which they were previously unable to do.

The service was still available yesterday.

But du insisted yesterday: “There has been no change in the treatment of VoIP (voice over internet protocol) traffic, including Skype, on our networks.”

Asked when the block was lifted, a company spokesperson said: “There are no details available.”

While smartphone users have long been able to download the Skype app from foreign-based app stores, the PC application has to be downloaded from the Skype’s website. This was previously impossible for du subscribers, and remains so for Etisalat subscribers.

Once the application is installed, on a phone or computer, Skype calls have long been – and remain – possible to other Skype users.

However, calls from Skype to fixed or mobile phones were blocked. They remain blocked for Etisalat users, but are now possible on du.

Etisalat says that it blocks the site and service because they violate regulations set by the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on unlicensed VoIP products.

The TRA says there are no such regulations. Its website says any decision to open up VoIP services is a matter for Etisalat and du.

Both Etisalat and du currently offer limited VoIP services via their Five and Hello cards, which give cheaper calls to selected countries.

ksinclair@thenational.ae