Dubai: Making audio or video calls online can lead to passionate discussions in the UAE, with debates on whether VPNs are legal or why some VoIP services are banned.
If you are still unsure about what is legal and what isn’t, here is a breakdown of all you need to know.
What is VPN?
VPN – short for Virtual Private Network – allows a user to bypass monitoring online by connecting to a virtual network. While there are some free VPN providers, many ad-free versions charge a monthly or yearly fee. This can vary significantly, depending on the speed and flexibility of the provider.
Once you have an account, the VPN makes your connection more secure and helps you stay anonymous. It also provides access to sites that might be blocked on your network. It does this by connecting to a global network of servers that mask your original Internet Provider address.
It is important to note that accessing a VPN is legal in the UAE, depending on some terms and conditions. This includes not accessing websites that violate the laws that govern VoIP access from within the country.
What is VoIP?
VoIP – Voice over Internet Protocol – allows for audio and video calls to be made through the internet. VoIP is the technology that converts your voice or camera input into a digital signal, allowing you to make a call directly from a computer, a VoIP phone, or other data-driven devices like tablets.
This enables people to make long-distance calls and in the UAE, which has a big expatriate population, making international calls is a big part of staying connected with family and friends.
While VPN is legal in the UAE, VoIP services need to be registered with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to be used.
Which services can I use?
Services like Skype and Whatsapp calls are blocked by the Telecommunications regulatory authority.
Etisalat and du offer access to the app Botim, which is registered with the TRA. If you want to use the app on your data, users are charged at Dh50 per month. For users who wish to access the app through their WiFi connection, the service is charged at Dh100 per month.
A new app called Yzer also registered for the rights to offer its services to du customers.