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TRA denies report about penalties for Skype use

(Wam) / 14 May 2013

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has denied claims published by a local newspaper about the unauthorised usage of the video-call service through Skype.

The report, which claimed that unauthorised access and usage of Skype would see users slapped with fines up to Dh1 million or even imprisonment, sparked an outrage.

In fact, the Voice-over Internet Protocol (VoIP) call services through Skype are still not permitted. The TRA added in a statement issued on Monday that despite the “total fallacy” of the Skype-related news, there may yet be some issues to be confirmed. The TRA stressed that penalties mentioned in Federal Law No. 3 for 2003 and its provisions have been reported inaccurately.

The law actually pertains to organised activities where penalties can apply to whomsoever provides organised telephonic “public services” without the correct TRA licence. The TRA also stated that all fines and penalties referred to in the newspaper report are strictly up to the UAE courts to decide. As for Skype services, the TRA announced on April 9 that the policies related to the use of the VoIP services only permit Etisalat and du, both fully licensed by the TRA, to provide communication services in the UAE.  This policy is still in effect and remains unchanged.

The authority added that lifting the blockage on the Skype website by the internet sevice providers does not mean a change in the TRA’s policies or stance on usage of the software.  This service remains an “organised activity” and, therefore, should be provided through permitted operators.

However, if these services were to be provided through a partnership with a third party, the licensees (Etisalat and du) must apply for approval after meeting technical and other necessary requirements.

As this is yet to happen with Skype services, VoIP services through Skype are still not permitted. — 

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