Move to support remote working, distance learning
The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has enabled some apps that support free video and voice calls in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
The regulatory body announced on Tuesday that, “in the context of the current situation,” communication tools like Microsoft Skype for Business and Google Hang Out are now available in the UAE.
The announcement was made to support the growing need for residents and businesses in the country to have easy access to tools that allow them to work or communicate remotely.
To stem the spread of coronavirus, which has now infected nearly 400,000 people worldwide, many companies in the UAE have allowed their staff to work from home. Schools have also activated distance learning.
“As part of the [TRA’s] efforts to support distance learning and working from home, [the] TRA, in coordination with the UAE telecom operators, announced the availability of a group of applications,” the agency said.
The TRA said that tools like Microsoft Times, Zoom and Blackboard will be available on all networks in the country, while Microsoft Skype for Business and Google Hang Out will be compatible with fixed internet networks.
The UAE had earlier imposed a ban on voice over internet protocol (VoIP) services in the country.
Many VoIP services, including those offered by WhatsApp, Skype and FaceTime that allow users to make voice and video calls through the internet, had been considered illegal.
To make unlimited access to a similar feature, UAE residents have to buy an internet calling plan from local providers like Etisalat or du and use authorized apps like BOTIM or C’ME.
This option, however, can be considered costly, especially for the budget-conscious, and many users have resorted to virtual private networks (VPNs), in order to save costs.