UAE Crushes BlackBerry Ban

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The United Arab Emirates’ threatened BlackBerry jam, set for Monday, has been lifted

It was back to business as usual in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) today as the BlackBerry ban, due to be implemented on Monday, was rescinded.

A short statement was posted on the state’s regulatory body’s website. “The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has confirmed that Blackberry services are now compliant with the UAE’s telecommunications regulatory framework,” it read.

Getting Back To Business

Other than acknowledging “the positive engagement and collaboration of Research In Motion (RIM)”, TRA gave no further details of what had been agreed. Speculatively, it is likely that a similar accommodation was reached in the UAE as was agreed with the Indian authorities.

On Monday, RIM agreed with the Indian Home Secretary to allow manual access to its Messenger service so providing automated access to unencrypted messages. This would reduce access time from several hours to real-time.

It is the closed network of encrypted email and messaging services that run across RIM’s global chain of Network Operations Centres that is causing concern. Governments see this as a potential threat to national security by providing terrorists with a secure communications link.

In the UAE, local telecoms operators Etisalat and Du almost immeidately announced business as usual. Both companies had assured users that, had the ban gone ahead, steps would have been taken to ensure a continuation of services.

There are an estimated 650,000 BlackBerry users in the UAE and Etisalat has 80 percent of the market while Du has 100,000 users (16 percent).

Etisalat seized the marketing opportunity of today’s retraction and immediately announced its plans to launch two new BlackBerry devices in the Torch and Curve ranges in the next few days.

A similar communications ban threatened by UAE’s larger neighbour Saudi Arabia was lifted in August.


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