Skype is very likely to be rolled out in the UAE next year when Microsoft opens its two new data centres in the country next year in collaboration with Etisalat, analysts predict.
At the beginning of the year, both telecom operators Etisalat and du confirmed the ban on Skype in official statements, saying that unlicensed and unauthorised Voice over internet Protocol (VoIP) Services are not supported in the UAE.
With Etisalat coming into the picture for the data centres, the chances of using Skype for voice and video calls in Office 365 may become a reality for businesses in the UAE. Skype is part of Office 365. Right now, only the chat feature in Skype is available for businesses.
Sukhdev Singh, vice-president at market research and analysis services provider Kantar AMRB, told Gulf News that small- and medium-sized enterprises will benefit the most from the move. Big businesses have their own VPNs to access Skype video and voice calls in the UAE.
“It makes all the more sense for the industry to open up Skype for businesses at least. It will not be available to consumers as per local authorities’ rules,” he said.
When asked whether Etisalat will have the monopoly over du, he said that if it happens, both the telecom operators will give access to Skype and TRA will not let Etisalat alone have the business advantage.
Moreover, he said that the move will also give a boost in the usage of Office 365, if Etisalat can charge it nominally through a subscription offer.
The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority of the UAE has blocked all video and voice calls, including Google’s Duo, Apple’s FaceTime and WhatsApp’s video and voice calling.
The TRA has said in their earlier statements that access to such VoIP services is still a prerogative of the licensed providers who reserve the right to provide such services through their networks. And companies wishing to offer such services must coordinate with the licensed telecom providers in the UAE.