Companies in the UAE are urging the federal regulator to reconsider its policy on VoIP because regulations have beginning to disrupt telecom and video conferencing in the country which is having a negative impact on businesses. Etisalat is the dominant telecom company in the UAE and the government is seeking to support the company by throttling service providers such as Vonage and having them migrate to VoIP services run by Etisalat.
The Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) has so far offered no comment but in the past, has referred to its 2015 clarification which specified that VoIP is a “regulated activity” that requires a license to operate in the UAE. Rather unsurprisingly citizens have responded with an online campaign that is calling on the government to rethink its current VoIP policy in the UAE. Unfortunately, international companies such as Vonage are not able to apply for a licence to operate in the UAE so consumers are calling for greater transparency and flexibility.
Current services unaffordable
UAE residents are hoping that a petition on change.org will show the TRA their dissatisfaction with the current regulatory regime and emphasise that the current VolP duopoly in the UAE are offering services which are simply unaffordable to most users. There are millions of users of VoIP services all over the world and the people in the UAE have simply been inaccessible to them. International VoIP service providers are aware this is the case but acknowledge there is nothing they can do about it.
Service providers want customers to complain to ISP’s
Most service providers urge customers to speak to their ISP’s and ask them whey their services are being blocked and request that they unblock their services. For its part the UAE has been cagey about allowing consumers access to VoIP services citing security concerns. It is not possible to use WhatsApp calling for months now and the same is true for Vonage, Snapchat and Facebook.