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The two companies are also the major mobile phone operators.
In January 2017, Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company (EITC), the company behind Du, stated it will launch a new mobile provider under the Virgin Mobile brand.
Etisalat and Du are the only operators licensed to provide paid Vo IP services, while the free or low-cost over-the-top (OTT) voice calls services provided by Whats App, Skype, and others are only accessible through fixed-line or Wi-Fi connections.
Whats App’s voice feature was blocked shortly after it was introduced in March 2015, Speaking in August 2016, the head of the Abu Dhabi Public Prosecution stated, “If a person uses VPN [sic] to make calls that are not available for users, they will be punished according to the cybercrime law rulings and telecommunications regulatory law.” Amendments to the cybercrime law passed that month raised the punishment for such activities to a fine between AED 500,000 and 2,000,000 (US$ 140,000 to 540,000), jail time, or both.
An anti-hate speech law provides for jail terms of up to 10 years for online speech deemed insulting to religious symbols or discriminatory to certain identities.Also in May, the regulator signed an agreement with the main ISPs “to facilitate raising the country's ranking into the top 10 countries on the National Readiness Index (NRI) in the World Technology Report.” Increased bandwidth and improved fixed-broadband services are expected to result.Most popular Voice-over-Internet-Protocol (Vo IP) services are restricted over mobile connections.With the provider Etisalat, a postpaid mobile plan with a 6 GB data allowance and 500 local minutes costs AED 150 (US$ 40), while a prepaid plan with an allowance of 5 GB, plus 3 GB for over-the-top (OTT) services, costs AED 200 (US$ 54).In April 2017, the regulator directed mobile operators to reduce rates for UAE residents roaming within the Gulf region, resulting in an average 18 percent drop in prices for consumers.