Foreigners blast Net-phone ban in Emirates

19 October 2006

Dubai, United Arab Emirates -- When telecom regulators in this country cut access to the popular Internet phone program Skype, the price of international calling skyrocketed.

The shutdown triggered an uproar among foreign residents who form about 80 percent of the population of the Emirates, a wealthy country with some of the world's highest levels of Internet penetration.

As the ban was phased in, Internet voice connections that cost about 2 cents a minute went dead. The remaining option was a bitter one: Pay about 75 cents per minute to phone Britain and 60 cents to call the United States during peak hours.

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