Many of the millions of expatriate workers living in the Gulf are separated from their families. They need to keep in touch. They need to talk. But the cheapest way of the talking has been blocked so far in Dubai. But things change.
Etisalat, in an announcement made on its Facebook page, said it had unblocked access to Skype’s website on Monday. Such access had been denied for several years. Reuters was able to access Skype’s website with an Etisalat mobile phone.
The statement did not say whether Skype-to-phone calls were also now possible and Etisalat did not reply to requests for more comment. It initially announced it had unblocked access to Skype’s website last week via Twitter, then deleted the tweet.
“It is becoming less sustainable to maintain restrictions on VoIP because the way people use communications is rapidly changing,” said Matthew Reed, a principal analyst at Informa in Dubai. “So there is an argument that it’s better for operators to find a way to work with over-the-top internet players such as Skype, rather than forlornly trying to fight market trends.”
Yet allowing these services will mean operators lose a big chunk of their international call revenues, Reed added.