Du and Etisalat are in discussions regarding the launch of VoIP services in the UAE, the CEOs of both companies said at a telecoms event in Jordan.
However, full liberalisation of services such as Skype appears unlikely, with both operators describing the model as unsustainable.
“In the UAE the TRA gave the operators the possibilty to offer VoIP services as a bolt-on," Osman Sultan, CEO, Du, said at the Arab Advisors summit in Jordan. “As far as we are concerned we are in discussion with some VoIP players to introduce this."
However, he added that full liberalisation of services such as Skype could damage the market. “People see VoIP as making international calls for free, and there is a progression on how we move the overall economic equation. It's not healthy to have over night the full disruption of an economic balance in the country,” he said.
“You will have a joyful period in the beginning but in the end there is no capability for the operators to offer in a sustainable way services,” he added.
Mohammed Omran, CEO, Etisalat, added that if Skype “works in conjunction with the licenced operators” then it would be a “workable model”.
“In the UAE there is no taxation and that is why the government makes good use of telecoms. It will happen through the operators. We are in discussions,” he said.
In the UAE only the licenced operators are permitted to offer telephony services, and access to VoIP services such as Skype remain restricted.