VoIPNews (AUS) – VoIP Block Frustrates Users IN UAE

Original Story:


VoIP users in the United Arab Emirates have been fighting a running battle with telco’s as restrictive practices are cutting them off from IP Telecommunications services.

According to this story, the latest round of restrictions appear to block SIP traffic using packet filter technology, whereas in the past port blocking had been used. Port blocking is relatively easy to avoid as it’s easy to change ports at the client end, but packet filtering (except with Skype) is a relatively easy and permanent block to data transfer.

Skype is a little harder to detect and therefore block in the network, but there are solutions emerging which would let countries, or organisations effectively block Skype if they put their mind to it.

The irony is that the incumbent telco, Etisalat, is actually a heavy IP Telephony user itself relaying as much as 40% of it international calls across VoIP gateways according to the source.

It’s perhaps easier to understand when taken in context that is rumoured to be working on its own consumer VoIP service.
Etisalat which is also the major broadband provider initially blocked access to the Skype website which meant users could download or upgrade versions of the client, nor could not buy credit.

With many Skype softphones already in place and the application being small enough to easily email most were getting around this inconvenience, or not upgrading their client (a potential security threat).

But the blockade turned into a business opportunity for one enterprising service called HeyU. To help users get copies of Skype, HeyU promised to send them an unblocked link to download the client app from a secure proxy site after paying the company using PayPal.

It’s not the first time Skype has been blocked in the region, says this story, which quotes one source saying that consumer pressure had overturned a previous Skype block in Saudi Arabia: “Two or three years ago Saudi Telecom also blocked Skype, which led to mass complaints from users. After a while, the telco gave up and unlocked it.”

Last month the public utility commission in Belize ruled that its monopoly telco would be allowed to block VoIP, but that it had to “notify the customer of the existence or imposition of this service limitation so that the customer can exercise choice in service providers,” and that the “service providers who offer restricted services should also offer an alternative service that does not include restrictions as an option to customers.”

A spokesperson for Etisalat in the UAE points out that it has every right to block the passage of Skype downloads or VoIP traffic as the provision of telecommunications services is restricted there and providing such a service is illegal for all but the two licensed carriers.

Skype actually ran into a similar situation in South Korea where it set up shop without first becoming a registered provider. However, it was let off fairly lightly there.


12 Responses to VoIPNews (AUS) – VoIP Block Frustrates Users IN UAE

  1. Ali Ali says:

    i think these greedy companies will finally give up , let the technology take its place in helping ease peoples life around the world instead of thinking how to fill the shakes pockets

  2. Moiz says:

    Let them block whatever they want by the use of VPN they cant hell do nothing to stop VoIP traffic. Just rent yourself a public IP and thats all it takes to get the VoIP rolling.

  3. Kasim says:

    They are hunting the voip providers like anything. This is worst market acquiring technology I have ever seen. This is against middle class people who is working for cheap salaries. How much you want from them?

  4. MikeVoip says:

    check out http://www.voipian.com they charge only 1 cent per call for a limited time!

  5. Beaver says:

    Greedy, greedy etisalat. 80% of UAE is foreigner still the minority loccals force their questionable “moral” on those who pay for FREE internet. If I pay I want to get full access just like in any OTHER free country. We know that Etisalat has “all rights” to do what ever they want, but it is far away from beeing all right. Are they going for business excellence or just plain customer ignorance, as they used to? It is a shame of UAE to have such ignorant state momopolies. Bad news that du is exactly as crap as etisalat.

  6. Etisalat will crumble says:

    I am currently on holiday and I have brought some work with me. By god it is impossible to do anything. Pages take 3-4 minutes to load after 10-15 attempts (NO EXAGGERATION WHATSOEVER)

    Also, in an attempt to try to increase speed, get some routers sorted and whatnot, I have come accross more blocked websites than unblocked sites. It is better NOT to have internet and enjoy the weather. UAE network really does suck. It’s just can’t be described.. awful. Oh, and guess what I found today? The small tweaks I did with the router were all reset this morning and the password was also removed from admin, lol it’s just impossible. This network is a tyrant.


    • nosy says:

      man thats the biggest pile of bullshit somebody ever offloaded in a comment… there is no way etisalat can access you router’s admin area and mess with passwords..

      • Richard Raffield says:

        Hi Jim,

        I was in the UAE when Etisilat tried on their own to break the Blackberry secure encryption. Over a day or so, everyone I know with a blackberry got extremely short battery life, and no one knew what was happening.

        Several weeks later Etisalat notified blackberry services would be blocked. Shortly thereafter, the manufacturer decided to give up their security encryption and viola, no one is having battery problems.

        So call it a pile of bullshit if you want US, but something is happening there. Please enlighten me also.

  7. botika says:

    Mizutech has a complete solution for voip encryption and tunneling. Their website (www.mizu-voip.com) are blocked from UAE so you should write email ( info@mizu-voip.com ) to request details. The solution is working fine even after the last changes made by etisalat.

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