UAE Skype users complain of service disruption

Some users have alleged that the crackdown coincides with a campaign to encourage adoption of paid VoIP apps



Users of Microsoft’s video calling service Skype have once again complained of calls being blocked in the UAE.

The disruption started over the last week and has seen the service become slow or inaccessible for many as they seek to contact family members or business contacts over the festive period.

In response to customer complaints on Twitter, UAE telecoms providers Etisalat and Du said that Skype was blocked as it was providing an unlicensed voice over internet protocol (VoIP) service under the country’s regulatory framework.

The UAE’s telecoms regulator has repeatedly stated that only Etisalat and Du are licensed to provide VoIP services in the country.

Read: VoIP Services Such As Skype, Viber Illegal In UAE, Clarifies Regulator

However, Skype services have remained available for many in the country despite occasional disruption.

Users last complained that the service was unusuable in June 2017. At the time Skype stated both its website and services had been blocked by both internet service providers in the UAE.

Read: UAE blocks Skype amid internet calling uncertainty

The service then appeared to become accessible again for months before the most recent issues.

Some users have alleged that the current crackdown coincides with a campaign by Du and Etisalat to encourage adoption of their paid VoIP apps BOTIM and C’Me.

These are priced at Dhs50 ($13.61) a month to make voice and video calls via a mobile data connection and Dhs100 ($27.23) a month for any device to make voice and video calls from a home Etisalat WiFi network.

Neighbouring Saudi Arabia lifted a ban on video call services such as Skype in September but said it would monitor calls.

Read: Saudi lifts Skype, WhatsApp ban, but will censor calls