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TMCNet:  UAE telcos ordered to drop BBM Channels [CommsMEA (United Arab Emirates)]

[December 15, 2013]

UAE telcos ordered to drop BBM Channels [CommsMEA (United Arab Emirates)]

(CommsMEA (United Arab Emirates) Via Acquire Media NewsEdge) Struggling smartphone maker BlackBerry was hit by a new blow in the UAE as telecommunications operators were forced to drop its new BBM Channels social media service, just weeks after it was launched.


In a statement, the Gulf state's second largest carrier du said that it could no longer offer BBM Channels as it did not meet the requirements of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA).

"In accordance with the Internet Management Policy issued by the TRA to regulate internet content that is not in line with moral, social and cultural values that the UAE stands for, the BBM Channels application is unavailable to du customers until further notice," an emailed statement said. "We count on the support and understanding of our customers in this regard." Launched in late November, BBM Channels is the Canadian manufacturer's social networking extension to its instant messaging application, and will compete with the likes of Facebook and Twitter.

The TRA's Internet Management Policy generally prohibits content such as pornography and some voice-over-Internet Protocol services, such as Skype, but it is not immediately clear how BBM Channels breaches the regulation.

In a similar statement, incumbent operator Etisalat announced via Twitter that it would also no longer be carrying the service.

"We understand that BBM Channels is not currently available to some BlackBerry customers in the UAE. We are working with our partners in the UAE to ensure their customers are able to enjoy the premier messaging experience of BBM and we will continue to work together to resolve any issues preventing people from using BBM Channels," a Dubai-based BlackBerry spokesperson said in a statement.

The TRA did not immediately respond to an emailed request from Arabian Business to elaborate on the matter.

In recent years BlackBerry, once dominant in the corporate sector, has suffered dwindling market share in the face of increased smartphone competition from the likes of Apple's iPhone and devices based on Google's Android software.

On Tuesday the company's stock touched a fresh ten-year low, hitting $5.44 per share, in anticipation of another depressing set of quarterly results set to be published on December 20.

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