United Arab Emirates telecoms operators du and Etisalat have blocked Snapchat’s new voice and video calling service due to the existing communications regulation in the country.
Spokespeople from the telcos were cited by local media as saying companies wishing to offer VoIP services would have to cooperate with the country’s licensed operators.
The service, which was installed in a recent update, is the latest to be hit by UAE telecoms laws.
This followed an announcement by the Telecoms Regulatory Authority in 2013 that the two telecoms licensees were the only ones able to provide voice over internet protocol services.
In April last year, a new feature allowing users of messaging service WhatsApp to call each other was blocked by the operators, which cited the VoIP regulation.
Apple’s FaceTime voice and video communications service is also not installed by default on the company’s smartphones bought in the UAE.
However, Microsoft video calling service Skype does work on devices connected to du WiFi networks in the country.
In February 2015, du chief executive Osman Sultan was quoted as saying that the telecoms operators restricted the usage of VoIP services to protect their huge network investments.
“The use of VoIP creates an economical issue. Skype is not blocked. Of course we know people use it,” he told 7Days newspaper. “For certain usage of Skype [PC-to-PC], it is allowed. But making phone calls through Skype directly, in principal, is not allowed,” he added.
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