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Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 September 2018

Uncertainty looms among Skype users in the UAE 

The telecoms regulator TRA has previously said services such as Skype and WhatsApp cannot operate unless they are licensed by Du and Etisalat.

Users are still confused as to whether they can access Skype in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National
Users are still confused as to whether they can access Skype in the UAE. Ravindranath K / The National

Skype is available for some users and not others leading to continued confusion over whether the video-calling service is blocked.

The service went down last week, with the Microsoft-owned company saying it has been blocked by UAE service providers Du and Etisalat.

Days before, WhatsApp video-calling became available for the first time after a global update, only to be cut off within hours.

“The service was working fine for me up until last Thursday, when it stopped," said Indian expatriate Sriraj Nair.

“Now it works but not at the first try. I have to disconnect and connect multiple times in order for the other person to hear and see me. The quality is very poor."

UK resident Maddie Davis had a family member move to Abu Dhabi recently and has been trying to keep in touch without resorting to expensive calls.

"We have used Skype to be able to have regular contact, but it’s not been connecting for weeks, neither calls or video work. He says he can see and hear us on video, but we cannot see or hear him at all.”

“We experienced it last Friday when trying to Skype friends in Abu Dhabi” says Hans Westhoff.

“My main concern is that computer-to-computer calls are now being made impossible; they used to be allowed before”.

In a statement posted to their support page, the Microsoft-owned company said that there was very little it could do after the service stopped working.

"The best course of action would be for you to speak to your ISP and ask why they are blocking Skype and request that they unblock our site and services”.

Experts say that the disruption “could be due to an update that Skype has undergone”.

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Abbas Jaffar Ali, founder of the UAE tech news website, TBreak, suggested that some users may still be using an older version of Skype while others are using the updated version.

“This is where the confusion kicks in. Skype have updated their app. Therefore, some users are unable to fully use its services. It could be the case that the updated version might actually not work while the older version might function properly” added Mr Ali.

“If the application is blocked then it should be blocked for all, if it’s open then it should be open for all”.

The telecoms regulator TRA has previously said services such as Skype and WhatsApp cannot operate unless they are licensed by Du and Etisalat. The telecoms companies would likely lose out financially, given Skype and WhatsApp offer services for free.

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