ONEm Communications, a UK-based technology company, is tying up with telecom operator du in an effort to transform the company’s voice and SMS services, the CEO of the company told Gulf News.

Christopher Richardson, CEO of ONEm Communications, said du will deploy a new service on Monday which will offer web and internet-based services via SMS, such as Postboard, and will be accessible from every SIM on the du network.

Postboard will offer classified services and other social media content.

In addition to Postboard, which will be free for three months, Richardson said du customers will enjoy interactive SMS-based versions of Wikipedia, Reuters and Bloomberg News from its partners as well as many other useful services.

It will also offer services via SMS similar to the existing short-code services, such as *170# and *140# on etisalat and *135# on du network, which allow users to check their balance on data and available credit.

After three months, users will also be able to send an SMS to set up a group call or group chat.

“The operators are not able to do this now as it will cost them money,” Richardson said. “We do this on a global basis and operators just have to connect to our platform. The operator can charge a monthly subscription and you will be able to talk with another mobile number in another country unlimitedly. Businesses can use these services, even for group messaging,” he said.

He said after the three free months, “we will have a premium model and will be discussing further with du. The idea is to make it as the internet model”.

He said voice and SMS services can still do many things that data cannot do. 

Telecom operators across the globe have been losing revenues from internet-based telephone services such as WhatsApp, Skype and others. These companies benefit from telecom operators’ infrastructure. Operators however gain no direct benefit from the service being deployed on their network.

Even du’s CEO Osman Sultan said recently that the company expects growth to come IoT (Internet of Things) and other new innovative smart services.

However, analysts were sceptical regarding the move.

“The service is targeted at non-data users, but I think it is too complicated for that segment of users to understand it. Secondly, most of the people in the UAE have their chat groups with friends and family back home or spread-out beyond the UAE,” said Sukhdev Singh, vice-president at market research and analysis services provider Kantar AMRB. Moreover, he said smartphone and data penetration rate is very high in the UAE.

Du declined to comment for this story.