UAE’s first legal VoIP?

VoIP call cards available at etisalat centres and shops offer calls at 40 fils a minute

Image Credit: XPRESS/Javed Nawab
Advertising itself: The company Five has been distributing brochures to people in and around Satwa advertising its ‘VoIP’ services. A call centre staffer said they have got the green light from etisalat, but etisalat did not confirm if it was true XPRESS/Javed Nawab

DUBAI: Cheap calls to India, Pakistan and other Asian countries, using voice over internet Protocol (VoIP) are being peddled in Dubai for as low as 40 fils per minute by a company.

Five sells Dh20 and Dh50 international VoIP cards and is distributing leaflets about the service in Dubai. It also has a toll-free number with a call centre in Ajman to handle customer queries.

Five also offers cheap calls to other Asian countries including Nepal, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh for 60 fils to 80 fils per minute and to the Philippines for 95 fils per minute.

XPRESS came across leaflets in several languages being handed out to customers in Satwa.

An Indian call centre staff of Five said their cards are available in Lulu supermarkets and even some etisalat business centres.

The agent claims they have the green light from UAE authorities and their staff attend to customers from a call centre based in Ajman.

The unbranded VoIP call cards are similar to phone credit scratch cards and come with a PIN number.

“It’s really simple and easy to use,” said the agent.

An etisalat spokesperson has neither confirmed nor denied its links to “Five”. Industry officials, however, said the generic VoIP service was never formally announced, but is licensed in the UAE.

A spokesperson for du, the UAE’s second licensed telecom operator, said: “I can confirm to you that this is not our product.”

VoIP has been in place for at least a decade across the globe, but the UAE has been late in harnessing it due to restrictions.

In March 2010, etisalat launched its first legal VoIP solution. The service was limited to business customers, allowing enterprises to outsource the management of their telephone network.

At Gitex in October 2011, etisalat launched its ePlus app, which allows subscribers to make calls via VoIP, and access social media, internet messenger, as well as the latest music, games and apps.

Your comments

  • Rengith

    Jan 31, 2013 2:18

    It's a good step!

  • hina

    Jan 31, 2013 1:45

    Its still expensive especially when you compare prices with the illegal services. It seems like true cost effective voip services are a long way ahead in the UAE

  • Arun

    Jan 31, 2013 1:20

    Hi, is it possible to let me know any website / materials where I can get more information about this?

  • Ahmed

    Jan 31, 2013 12:23

    The first sign from the authority to open Voip market. Good to be all. Thanks TRA. It is a positive and bold step to encourage and accept new technological advancements.

  • Riyaz Ahamed

    Jan 31, 2013 12:18

    The price is not attractive enough

  • Nakhuda

    Jan 31, 2013 11:19

    When Voip calls are as cheap as 0.05 fils per minute, why should one go for 0.40 fils per minute Voip calls? When illegal companies can earn from thier low cost Voip calling cards, then why can't the telecom departments do the same? Is it necessary for the legal calls to be costlier than the illegal calls? High prices and restrictions give birth to illegals. Get rid off the illegal companies by giving better and cheaper services to the people.

  • salauddin

    Jan 31, 2013 10:30

    It is a good move and will help all expats make calls to their home countries. Hope the internet cafes can get this service so that they will not opt for any illegal VOIPs in future.

  • Genius

    Jan 31, 2013 10:19

    Useless call rates. Same call rates can be availed through their Home Land service plan. This card is only to show that they have VOIP products and give an impression to the TRA that they have allowed VOIP.

  • Vinod

    Jan 31, 2013 8:48

    What is the big thing on this offer? Etisalat is offering 60 fils per minute for India calls. Compared to VOIP, phone calls are much better in terms of clarity.

  • M. K.

    Jan 31, 2013 8:46

    VoIP is supposed to be the 'alternative' to regular phone calls, and internet, but nowadays it is heading towards being a 'human right' than a business tool to generate money. Communication and connecting people should be unrestricted, free, not a business. There are many ways to generate tons of revenue from added values and services, but any form of communication at our time and the future should be free and unrestricted, connecting people all over the globe. We shouldn't limit ourselves to being businesses and revenue generating units. There's more to be done and many different ways to profit!

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