BlackBerry Voice Service may be blocked in the UAE
RIM could launch BlackBerry 10 devices in the United Arab Emirates without its BlackBerry Messenger Voice service, following ongoing talks with telecom operators in the area.
BBM Voice was added to BBM last month to allow users to call one another over an Internet connection.
As with the original service, BBM Voice has proven popular with users who have large or unlimited data allowances on their contract, but want to cut down on their text messages or traditional calls.
A report by the Wall Street Journal explains that the service has become “a sticking point” for RIM and telecom operators Du Telecom, based in Dubai, and Etisalat Telecommunications Corp, based in Abu Dhabi. The latter believe that allowing such a service to launch in the United Arab Emirates will impact their traditional revenue streams – most likely their income from pay-as-you-go customers, who will be looking to avoid the incremental costs associated with text messages and voice calls.
With the commercial launch of BlackBerry 10 today, RIM has been lobbying the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority to try to broker some kind of trade-off. One solution could be for both Etisalat Telecommunications and Du Telecom to sign up to separate commercial agreements, which would allow them to provide the service at an extra cost for its customers.
That would certainly make the operators happy – although it’s safe to say the value of BBM Voice would be all but depleted as a result.
One senior official at the TRA told the Wall Street Journal that a resolution was likely to occur before the BlackBerry 10 launch event later today.
“We would not want the UAE to be seen as a restrictive case,” he said.
“We continue to work closely with our partners in the United Arab Emirates to bring BlackBerry services to our customers,”.
“We undertake rigorous due diligence with all BlackBerry product and service launches to guarantee the functionality, features and rich user experience that our customers have come to expect, while ensuring that they comply with the regulatory framework of the countries within which we operate.”