Business | Telecoms

BlackBerry suspension: Alternative services to be created

Du and etisalat have until October 11 to find a way around a suspension of BlackBerry services in the UAE

  • By Nadia Saleem, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 August 2, 2010
  • Gulf News

BlackBerry has been in use in the UAE since 2007
  • Image Credit: Karen Dias/Gulf News
  • BlackBerry has been in use in the UAE since 2007. The country's telecom regulator recently announced it is suspending BlackBerry services on October 11.
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Dubai: The UAE's two telecom operators Emirates Telecommunication Corporation (etisalat) and Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (du) will develop "alternative" products and service for BlackBerry users as the country's regulator suspends current services on the device.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on Sunday announced its decision to suspend BlackBerry services by October 11 and instructed operators to "ensure minimal consumer disruption in the provision of alternative services".

Have your say: What do you think about the TRA's decision?

Etisalat spokesperson Ahmad Bin Ali told Gulf News that there would be a lot of alternative services, but did not provide any clarification. "Alternatives and all information will be announced hopefully this week, as we just received the announcement from TRA today," Ali said on Sunday.

A TRA spokesperson said that all operators — etisalat, du and Research In Motion (RIM), the Canadian maker of BlackBerry — are working to find a service that falls under the TRA regulation and the UAE law. The regulator has earlier said that due to the level of security on the devices and their inaccessibility to third-parties, poses a national security threat. It has been in talks with RIM to work around the issue, but the manufacturer has not said it would make any changes for the UAE.

It declined to comment on the suspension order when contacted by Gulf News.

"With no solution available and in the public interest, in order to affect resolution of this issue, as of October 11, 2010, Blackberry Messenger, Blackberry Email and Blackberry Web-browsing services will be suspended until an acceptable solution can be developed and applied," TRA Director General Mohammad Al Ganem said in a statement.

Statement from etisalat on the TRA decision
du statement on the TRA decision 

The TRA spokesperson said that the suspension was decided after it was discovered that the device does not fall under UAE law. The BlackBerry has been in use in the country since 2007.

"The option for alternative services ... is the most important priority," Al Ganem said. "I would be surprised if it gets to the possible plan of suspension. I think it might not be the end of the line but just a way to build pressure on RIM," telecoms analyst Matthew Reed an editor at Informa telecoms and media told Gulf News.

He said that the October 11 deadline leaves time for the involved parties to find a solution.

Etisalat has said that mobile data services account for 15 per cent of mobile subscriptions, including smartphone, broadband.

"The BlackBerry is probably the biggest single component of that at 5 to 10 per cent," Reed said. "Revenues they make from smartphones are typically three to fives times as much from regular phones."

The UAE has an estimated 500,000 BlackBerry users.

The suspension would include suspension of BlackBerry services providing email, web browsing, instant messaging and social networking, etisalat said in a statement.

"Etisalat has an obligation to act within the law and the regulations of the TRA, while at the same time, providing our customers with the best service," it said.

"Customers will be able to continue using their BlackBerry devices for Voice, SMS, MMS and web browsing not using blackberry service as these services will remain unaffected," said du, adding that in the coming days, it would be making an announcement on the new plans.

Comments (12)

  1. Added 17:56 August 2, 2010

    Ok, back to two phones like before. BB with roaming from Europe and the second phone here for the phone use. Less control for TRA and less profit for Etisalat/Du. Or will business visitors and tourists coming to the UAE also not be able to use their BB?

    International BB user, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  2. Added 16:00 August 2, 2010

    What's goin on man!!! What will we be able to do and NOT do please tell me someone

    AW, DXB, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 14:40 August 2, 2010

    Hundreds of thousands of users will have a big problem without this, especially those foreign companies with branches here. Most of them rely on these gadgets a lot. Besides, if the BB has been here since 2007, why wasn't it regulated then? Why only now? A huge percentage of the country's population relies on the internet and telephones as ways of communicating with family, colleagues and friends. If BB is gonna be removed now, what's next? No Internet access???

    Sasha, Dubai, Afghanistan

  4. Added 14:04 August 2, 2010

    Good B.B blocked.Too many user's mess with B.B.Good we will not give support to the User.Mr.IT

    abc, dubai, United Arab Emirates

  5. Added 12:29 August 2, 2010

    The problem right now is on BB services. When iPhone4 releases in the UAE, would TRA have a problem with Face-Time? This application is again a free application worldwide.

    Mushtaq Ahmad, Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates

  6. Added 12:24 August 2, 2010

    if it doesnt lie under thier laws then why it was launched. putting presure on rim by saying we will discontinue the serivce , will deggade the image of uae telecom custmers. any how the servicce is not cheap also , i am using blackberry service in uae which i have taken from india and on roaming it is costing me less then what is provided over here.

    ali, $comment.city, United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 12:00 August 2, 2010

    TRA has taken a right decision. Every country has the own law and order. Any organization local based or foreign based should work under local law and order where they are operating. Who is BB to manipulate other countries? Very soon other countries will do the same if BB doesnt come out with the solution.

    Malan, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 11:31 August 2, 2010

    I think that it is just a strong message or ultimatum to RIM to optimize or redesign services into TRA frame of rules. Though secure or VPN data sharing can be done through other mediums as well, like just a smartphone with internet connection with the right tools, a deep down analysis doesn't favor rationals behind the restriction. Hence RIM should act according to law, while Etisalat and du should put sufficient pressure. Let's see what happens before October. In case of restriction, a significant impact on business is vital.

    Adnan Shabbir, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  9. Added 11:19 August 2, 2010

    RIM has given the necessary security access to US, India & other countries. If the UAE is concerned about security violations RIM must work with them to resolve. There are security issues which need to be addresses. RIM cannot have double standards.

    Farhan, Mumbai, India

  10. Added 11:14 August 2, 2010

    i think its a wise idea of uae to promote iphone 4's...

    rejin asharaf, abudhabi, United Arab Emirates

  11. View more comments

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