Published on June 24th, 2015 | by Varuna Singh2
C’Me is Etisalat’s answer to VoIP in the UAE
Etisalat is one of two (other being du) telecom and internet service providers in the UAE. Etisalat is a very reputable brand that has operations and is an operator in several other countries in Asia, Africa and the Middle-East. Both du and Etisalat are present in the UAE and both of them are regulated by an authority called the TRA, or Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
The state of VoIP in the UAE
Criticism aside, the ISPs, Operators and TRA are responsible for one of the best wireless infrastructure in the UAE and around the world. They successfully executed the number portability, provide great coverage and both du and Etisalat provide a fair bit of competition to each other. Etisalat ran a few promotions and challenges recently as well.
VoIP services need to be licensed in the UAE
VoIP services have to be licensed in the country. However I am not aware of any that are. That might look like VoIP services are illegal. There are good reasons for that. It keeps the Operators services being used and also helps the infrastructure of telecoms grow in the country.
You may have realized, experienced and read that for example Skype to landlines and mobile calling does not seem to work using Mobile Data and nor does WhatsApp calling (including other similar services such as Viber, Apple FaceTime, and many more to come). While you may still use Skype and WhatsApp for IM services, voice, telephone calling and video does not really happen. Facebook messenger is the latest app that introduced Video calling and while it may work in the UAE for now, it still lies in the same league of services that the TRA is likely to block.
— TechView.me (@TechViewME) June 11, 2015
So VoIP services and even normal voice and video calling services such as WhatsApp and Skype need to get a license to operate in the UAE. While that may not be of a priority for them, the apps miss out a few features when they are used in the UAE.
“Can you hear me, now?”
Technically speaking, the bandwidth of these apps are throttled such that it is just enough to IM and send pictures. Bandwidth intensive tasks such as a Video call, are throttled. This would explain why you are able to initiate a call but nothing much really happens after “Can you hear me?”
Does C’Me eliminate the competition?
So, is there NO such VoIP feature available in the region? That’s going to change and Etisalat themselves announced some months back their C’me app. This app is a messaging, voice and really a VoIP app for iPhone and Android. With Etisalat’s C-me, you will be able to initiate high quality voice and video calls, while maintaining a secure address book. A little bit on the security later.
C’Me is only available for Etisalat users. While you may be able to download the app. However the app wouldn’t function if you are using a non-Etisalat SIM. C’Me will work using your data plan which is a separate purchase. This means your contacts will have to be Etisalat customers as well for this to work. C’Me will also work with WiFi.
Both Data and Calling charges apply
Data is just the medium here. You as a user will still have to pay for the service. In-fact if you are using C’Me with your data plan, your data will be used and you will also be charged for using the service at normal traditional calling rates.
Privacy and Security
C’Me stores your address book on their servers, you do have to consent for this. Etisalat assures you it is securely stored. Think of it as how WhatsApp finds your contacts. The way your contacts work in C’Me is almost exactly like that of WhatsApp. The good news is you do not need to re invite your friends and the way its done is proven. They all have to be Etisalat customers to show up as well.
What most of the policy means is that Etisalat securely saves all interactions including location, messages and contacts in their databases. Rightly so they probably need that to bill you for the service.
Full control of Twitter, full integration in C’Me
You can also link your Twitter account with C’Me. According to their terms and conditions they are allowed almost full control of your twitter handle (tweet, block, follow, read, add #hashtags). This in accordance to them is so that they can fully integrate twitter in their C’Me application.
So, that is Etisalat’s answer to Skype, WhatsApp and most probably in the future Facebook calling.