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VOIP App Availability in the UAE
June 20, 2020

VOIP App Availability in the UAE

VOIP: A Bit of Background

VoIP or (Voice over Internet Protocol) technology enables people to make voice and video calls using a broadband internet connection instead of a traditional phone line. VOIP telephone technology services operate over computer networks- a phone service delivered over the internet by converting voice into digital signals.

The UAE has historically banned VOIP applications, but this changed with the COVID-19 pandemic. In March the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority lifted bans on access to popular VOIP apps such as Zoom, Skype for Business, Blackboard and Microsoft Teams. Businesses, schools and government officials have utilised these apps to work and learn from home. They have become accessible in the UAE through fixed line internet networks.

The TRA announced then that these apps would become available ‘until further notice’ and that it would ‘periodically review the list.’

The Future of VOIP Technology in the Middle East

The coronavirus, has changed the perspective and influenced regulators in this regard. To conduct business, communicate with family and study, VOIP became enthusiastically adopted by schools and businesses.  That isn’t to say that every app was enabled. Facebook and WhatsApp are still banned.

This month Federal National Council members sought more information from the TRA on whether these VIP calling apps would remain available after CoVID-19. Government workers returned to work on 14th of June, and many have since wondered whether the use of this technology will remain in place.

Federal National Council member Aisha Al Yateem asked representatives of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority for more information on what to expect.

Microsoft is no stranger to the Middle East. In the UAE in June 2019, the corporation launched two cloud regions in ABU Dhabi and Dubai, which Microsoft described as two of ‘the largest and most secure in the world’. With the Middle East taking steps to embrace the industrial revolution, the goal was to increase Microsoft Cloud services performance and maintain data residency, security and compliance.

There is current speculation that these VOIP apps will remain in place, but this remains to be seen and is within the jurisdiction of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. Businesses and educational groups remain hopeful.

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