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17 January, 2006

Letter to the TRA

Dear TRA,

UAEans are not the complete cretins you laughingly take us for. Stop trying to pretend that you are "protecting" our interests by banning IP telephony. You're not.

You are protecting your/Etisalat's pocket. Nothing else.

We the customers don't care about a slightly lower-quality line if it means we pay a couple of cents a minute (like in developed, non-monopolistic countries) rather than the extortionate, third-world-style charges that you extort.

We the customers would also very much like to know what happened to the legalised internet telephony, promised to us as long ago as October 2004?

We don't believe any of your excuses, so why not be honest with us and admit that you only want to ban VoIP because it might impinge upon the gargantuan annual profits that you/Etisalat extract? And admit that the de-monopolisation put in place is nothing but a cosmetic sop to the WTO.

At least be honest if you can't be fair.

yours sincerely

Telephony customers
United Arab Emirates



Anonymous Anonymous said...

Where do I sign!!!:-)

17 January, 2006 14:24  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hey SD - You go girl!!

On a more serious note, I share your thoughts completely and always wondered what happened to the whole 'legal VOIP' rant in the papers last year (the i2c sms saying that etisalat had hired a western software company to 'block' the voip sites didn't help either)

Even third world countries offer better and (far more importantly CHEAPER) services. The 'low volume of callers' excuse wont work either... its time to get with the program and provide an equitable service, just like any other RESPONSIBLE GLOBAL ORGANIZATION

17 January, 2006 14:32  
Blogger samuraisam said...

sd i hope you don't get blocked because of this, but i do agree with your message (:

17 January, 2006 14:40  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the linked text the reasons given for making VoIP illegal are quality AND security.

Maybe - apart from a nice extra money to be earnt - someone has promised the big brother in his fight against terrorism, not to allow these things before they could be reliably monitored (and the content delivered to big brother)?

Who knows?

17 January, 2006 14:46  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

count on me for the signing list!!

17 January, 2006 14:52  
Blogger Al Ain Taxi said...

Let me put my signature to that!

17 January, 2006 14:54  
Blogger Balushi said...

Secy, its not that i dont have internet anymore!! but i am sick and tired to say something (which you taught me and the whole of UAE) has the right to do...

but you keep deleting my comments!

So whats the point for me to make any comment on this topic?

17 January, 2006 14:54  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Good point about the call monitoring bit... Solution is - either sell land line calls at the VOIP rates (for monitoring) or allow voip!

17 January, 2006 14:55  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Balushi: you know perfectly well by now that the only comments of yours I delete are your boring and mendacious sexual anecdotes. Save them for elsewhere, because they do not belong here.

On-topic comments are always welcome.

17 January, 2006 15:07  
Blogger secretdubai said...

quality AND security

Well, whether the average call between an expat and their elderly relative really warrants much CIA interest is anyone's guess. But I couldn't care less if someone is monitoring my phone calls or not. I am sure my line has been tapped before, and I am sure it will be again.

The point is I am not involved in seditious activity and I have nothing to hide, so let them listen as I discuss the general round of births, deaths, marriages and divorces back home.

And if I wanted to communicate privately, I would not use any form of commerical telephony system, even Skype.

17 January, 2006 15:11  
Blogger (((dXb))) said...

You are protecting your/Etisalat's pocket. Nothing else.

At least be honest if you can't be fair.

It's pretty obvious their reason is... it's as if they think the people in UAE are stupid.

Yes, they should stop insulting us and just be honest!

17 January, 2006 15:22  
Blogger samuraisam said...

but that's the point, skype is encrypted, literally impossible to break.
As if it's the TRA's responsibility to ensure the satisfaction of customers in the UAE?

tbe TRA is hiding away it's intentions with fancy wording, tell us exactly why you're blocking skype and i'm sure we'll be able to get skype to provide an unencrypted service.
It's obvious they're lying about providing proper service to customers, otherwise Etisalat wouldn't exist.

17 January, 2006 15:25  
Blogger Keef said...

I love the TRA. They are the consumer's friend. (Oops, that was Keefieboy being disingenuous).

17 January, 2006 15:44  
Blogger Destitute Rebel said...

Whats this about Voip being banned, I have had no problems with Voip, I'v been using it and am still using it with amazing quality.

17 January, 2006 15:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Etisalat obviously does not understand that competition and maybe a little customer satisfaction may boost their profits in the long run. Perhaps the company can send some of their executives to some good international schools like INSEAD, MIT Sloan, McGill for classes in Telecommunications Management. Maybe there is a telecommunications and managemnt book for dummies available somewhere. Im sure there is more that can be done to help the clueless people at Etisalat.

17 January, 2006 16:11  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anyone with half a brain knows the TRA is full of it. Mohamed Gheyath should probably be crowned for the most insulting public statement made yet. Unbelievable.

On the phone-tapping issue, I always assume that all my phone conversations include one more person just listening. I have learned to live with it. If I wanted to have a secure line of communication, I would use other methods which I am quite familiar with. However, it is usually a business-oriented type of communication that I care about.. I'm open enough to put my name out there and don't have a problem with being identified for my thoughts.

Welcome to the jungle.

17 January, 2006 16:36  
Blogger (((dXb))) said...

destitute rebel:

there is no problem using voip at the moment... etisalat has not found a way to block it yet... but they have plans... check this post from SD.

If you have skype already installed, then there is no problem... at this time. They blocked though so new users can't download skype.

Btw, when you try to access, the famous "site blocked" page from etisalat does not appear, but a mere "Network Error (tcp_error)" is displayed.

17 January, 2006 16:46  
Blogger samuraisam said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

17 January, 2006 17:00  
Blogger samuraisam said...

has anyone tried

17 January, 2006 17:10  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, I confirm that and are both authentic websites belonging to a single company Skype of Luxembourg.

I don't know what the hype is all about with skype, but there're other REAL alternatives to VoIP communications on the market today.

Net2phone,, - and many more.

17 January, 2006 17:51  
Blogger samuraisam said...

according to several people i've asked brings the same error as within etisalats userbase ):

17 January, 2006 18:11  
Blogger CG said...

About their fat pockets, I was wondering if anyone else is wondering when they are going to re-imburse us for charging for 'happy new year' text messages that were sent and never received. I believe they took about dh.15 from my phone, and I waited until well into new years day to send them to avoid any 'jams'....anyone else curious to know why their messages were never answered?

17 January, 2006 18:34  
Blogger moryarti said...

Does TRA have a PR agency? maybe they should start looking

17 January, 2006 19:07  
Blogger samuraisam said...

*shameless plug*
my thoughts on this here

17 January, 2006 19:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Qatar has started bloking voip calls!!!!!

17 January, 2006 19:33  
Blogger BrainSyke said...

very well said!

17 January, 2006 19:35  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wake up and smell the coffee everyone! Who are the TRA? They are a government run body. What is Etisalat? A government owned monopoly. Yes they are all one and the same! Why on earth would they want to give up a valuable source of revenue - one that earns them billions? If they thought about it enough they would open up the telephony market but start taxing all long distance calls. Even at 15% they'd be making a bundle and we'd all save money too by choosing the best provider. Rather than waiting for the WTO to force them to change they should kick start the process now.

17 January, 2006 19:56  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

17 January, 2006 20:01  
Blogger flamin said...

moral of the story is that etisalat should should be given a death sentence :@

17 January, 2006 20:06  
Blogger secretdubai said...

Sorry - while we may be able to criticise Etisalat/TRA, it just isn't safe to post information on how to circumvent the proxy. No quicker way to get this site blocked :(

17 January, 2006 20:07  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

SD, since Etisalat and the TRA are both in the business of limiting access to information, they should probably be made aware that bypassing the proxy is a rather simple and straight-forward process.

I wonder if I could fly a small jet across the UAE with flyers thrown down, with detailed instructions of the many ways the proxy can be completely bypassed ;)

Okay, maybe not.

17 January, 2006 20:50  
Blogger samuraisam said...

not really, they've managed to really crack down on bypassing it, if you're willing to spend money, it's pretty easy, but otherwise, fugghetaboutit.

17 January, 2006 21:05  
Blogger The Sage said...

If one thing is to be learned here is that Etisalat cannot block technology forever...

17 January, 2006 21:05  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We the customers don't care about a slightly lower-quality line if it means we pay a couple of cents a minute

Except Skype computer-to-computer calls (which are 100% free) are actually much better quality than any landline so long as both computers are using broadband.

Not only is Etisalat stupid, it's immoral. The people who suffer most from this are the people who can afford it the least. Most highly-paid expats are either clever or well-connected enough top avoid the ban. It's the poor subcons who call their families once a week that are forced to pay Etisalat's monopolistic prices.

17 January, 2006 21:17  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


I suppose that's why they are adamant about the restriction of information about bypassing proxies. The truth is, it really is very simple and does not require financial investments. Of course, if you do have the cash to setup a proxy of your own to use, that's a different story -- but will certainly enhance the speed.

Don't want to get too technical here, as most people may not understand what I'm blabbering about ;)

17 January, 2006 21:21  
Blogger archer14 said...

They're about to hire a firm that'll scrutinise data and block any 'voice' data...So Skype is not going to be of any use in the near future.
However, did anyone realise why the Wasel cards were revamped with a raffle draw to boot? Draw your own conclusions, but I don't think it was to boost profit. All those fellas with those net telephony cards are making a huge dent in etisalats profits....Expect more kicks below the belt in the coming months!

17 January, 2006 21:59  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Etisalat is a disgrace to the UAE.
I wonder how their employess can even work there. India, Phillipines, Indonesia, even Uganda offers better serive than Etisalat. However now after buying PTLC at twice the price of the next bidder ,perhaps they will learn a lesson in real world marketing and management.Their entry into the pakistani market will be a disaster as they have no clue on the workings of a real Telecommunication company.It will be a real pleasure to watch this fiasco!!

18 January, 2006 03:44  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A question - is using Skype actually illegal in the UAE? It is obviously blocked etc - and we all know it is possible to use it - however, my question is - is the use of Skype against the law and punishable in court?

18 January, 2006 09:58  
Blogger samuraisam said...

using a service alternative to etisalat is illegal.

18 January, 2006 10:29  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Can you please provide a source for this statement? Thanks.

18 January, 2006 10:42  
Blogger samuraisam said...

they constantly mention it in the newspapers, and also i believe if you take a close look at your contract with Etisalat you agree to use only their service, also the front page of used to have some statement about them being the sole provider, but i guess since the freezones etc, it's a bit redundant.

18 January, 2006 11:45  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

sorry to harp on about this - but just because it says in a contract that the are the sole provider does not make using it an illegal act - you are just in breach of your contract with etisalat.

I want to know if the use of it is illegal in the eyes of the law...

In the newspapers I can't remember seeing the use of the word illegal - only that it is a blocked service.

Again - apologies to harp on - just want to get to the bottom of this...


18 January, 2006 12:12  
Blogger samuraisam said...

i've seen statements iirc from etisalat employees and they say "if you use another service it is illegal" but, i don't think they'd ever charge a customer with it, i think they can only charge a provider with it, because people tried offering dodgy free calls and stuff over the years and they get arrested

18 January, 2006 12:48  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend who sells satellite communication equipment and he tells me this stuff is in great demand, especially in KSA for great, unrestricted internet access. Recent technological advances have greatly brought down the cost of such equipment and as he tells me, people living in a small group of villas, etc. usually pitch in together. Given the bandwidth available (especially when you get what you pay for), in the long run it is actually quite cost-effective. It seems this concept is catching on here as well, as is no longer restricted to the rich and well connected. Just one word of advice- keep the antennas out of sight ;)

18 January, 2006 14:06  
Blogger snow white said...

Someone told me last week that Etisalat is the single most profitable company in the GCC. Considering the competition, that's quite some feat ..... The alternative is, we hope Etisalat goes public, so we can all buy shares and cash in the dividends as retribution for the exorbitant fees.

18 January, 2006 20:13  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

They did the same thing in Qatar. After a lot of complaints came up especially from the US expatriates, they put it up again. Qtel later explained that theses services had been blocked due to upgradation of the system. ???

22 January, 2006 15:55  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Guys when you dont have technical background about the problems that VOIP brings with it.

I want VOIP to be allowed but it should be done in a right way.

here's an example of ONE of the problems which can come with VOIP

23 January, 2006 10:09  

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