The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has published its licensing framework for the provision of voice-over-IP (VoIP), announcing that only the Sultanate’s four licensed telecoms operators – Etisalat, Du, and satellite companies Thuraya and Yahsat – will be allowed to offer the service. International companies, such as Skype, remain barred from providing internet telephony, although they have the option of joining forces with one of the four local operators to legally offer the service. Mohammed Gheyath, executive director at the TRA, commented: ‘The TRA believes that this regulatory policy will provide opportunities for both licensees and users to benefit from VoIP-based services in keeping with the market demands. The TRA looks forward to seeing the introduction of VoIP services that are responsive to consumer and business needs.’ Previously, Etisalat and Du were the only companies allowed to provide internal VoIP services within the UAE, which banned international internet-based calls in 2004. With the relevant infrastructure already in place, incumbent Etisalat has been able to immediately launch a VoIP service for enterprise customers.
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