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UAE remote working paves way for regulatory changes

Waheed Abbas/Dubai
Filed on April 18, 2020 | Last updated on April 18, 2020 at 12.33 am
CONNECTING PEOPLE: UAE telecom service provider have taken steps to avoid network bottlenecks and reduction in speed. - File photo

Massive increase in online traffic due to remote working policies and online streaming services may lead to future regulatory changes.


Reassessing  the existing telecom infrastructure needs will prove to be vital for businesses in the uae, according to a recent report released by Dubai Future Foundation (DFF).

Massive increase in online traffic due to remote working policies and online streaming services may lead to future regulatory changes and liberalisation of VPN and VoIP in the UAE and wider Mena region.

Currently, the use of Virtual Private Network (VPN) is illegal in all the countries across Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region while VoIP is permitted in some regional countries.

In order to improve connectivity and communication for professional usage in the UAE, the telecom regulator removed blocks on a series of VoIP applications last month to ensure proper distance learning for students in the country.

Expecting massive surge in online traffic, UAE telecom service provider have taken steps to avoid network bottlenecks and reduction in speed. Such efforts proved successful.

According to the Speedtest Global Index, released by internet performance analysis firm Ookla, in March the UAE had the quickest mobile internet speed in the world, with downloads speeds of 83.52 Mbps, upload speeds of 21.79 Mbps and latency of 27 milliseconds.

In terms of fixed broadband, the country rose three places from its February ranking to 26th globally, with downloads speeds of 100.95 Mbps, upload speeds of 51.17 Mbps and latency of 11 milliseconds, Oxford Business Group said on Wednesday.

As result of these VPN restriction in the region, the Dubai Future Foundation report - "Life After Covid-19: Telecommunications - warned that the companies may not be able to use VPNs for international business communication which will hurt them financially.

"Given that VPNs are not permitted in all circumstances in all Mena countries, companies may be unable to use such networks to continue international business communication online. While employees have to work from home and international travel is not possible, this may put significant pressure on the cost and efficiency of business communication further exacerbating the challenges facing businesses that are struggling due to a drop in demand," said the report.

Generally, companies that use VPNs that are dependent on traffic over the public internet may see transport problems as connections are made from around the world translating into slowdowns and reduced quality of service.

"This may be an opportunity to assess the potential impact of possible future regulatory changes and determine whether existing infrastructure needs to be upgraded and the market for VPN and VoIP liberalised. Due to authorities efforts to develop infrastructure over the past decade across the Mena, most regional markets should be well positioned to tackle the current situation," said the report.

GCC countries on track
It noted that countries in the Middle East, particularly in the GCC, are largely 'on track' with reviewing and adapting current regulatory frameworks, including introducing new regulatory frameworks with regards to e.g. cloud services or IoT, upgrading networks and rolling out 5G capabilities will be important going forward to transform and scale operations and allow remote service provisioning.

According to Dubai Future Foundation, the existing broadband capacity will also be tested, not only due to the use of VPNs or other networks for businesses uses, but owing to the use of recreational internet usage.

Recently, the European Union commissioner for internal market and services warned that online streaming services such as Netflix and YouTube are putting Europe's broadband infrastructure under strain as millions work from home to prevent the spread of Covid-19, indicating that data rationing might be future possibility. - waheedabbas@khaleejtimes.com





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