CONNECTING THE DOTS

Oman 2019 | TELECOMS & IT | INTERVIEW

To encourage greater investment in the sector as well as promote competition, TRA seeks to update Oman's infrastructure-sharing regulations.

Dr. Hamad Salim Al Rawahi
BIOGRAPHY
Dr. Hamad Salim Al Rawahi has been the CEO of TRA since 2011. He served as a Non-Executive Independent Director at Bank Sohar, S.A.O.G. from 2007-2011 and Director of Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company SAOC from 2007-2011. He serves as Board Member of the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and the chairman of various other committees within the ITA. Dr. Al-Rawahi holds a PhD and MPhil from Cranfield University, the UK, and a BSc from the University of Salford, UK. He is a chartered engineer and chartered IT professional, both from the UK.

How has growth in the MNVO market impacted the telecommunications landscape in Oman?

The two active mobile resellers Friendi and Renna together hold a market share of around 17%. The resellers have been effective in competing with mobile network operators in terms of price and packaging of consumer-preferred services. The mobile resellers have been successful in carving out niche markets for themselves by focusing on segments sensitive to pricing and making attractive offers on voice and data.

How will the third operator license impact providers and customers in Oman's mobile market?

The primary outcome of awarding a third operating license is to enhance competition in the mobile market. Consumers are expected to receive a range of benefits like coverage, competitive price, higher quality of service, and improved customer services. The license award would also make the existing operators innovate further and reach out to the consumers with improved services and price offerings.

What changes need to be made to the telecommunications market to remain innovative and customer friendly?

Implementation of the access and interconnection regulations requiring the publishing of wholesale offers by way of reference access and interconnection offers is expected to pave the way for the introduction of SMEs as internet service providers (ISPs) in the service provision of the bit stream layer. It would address the major issue of reaching out to customers in the last mile. TRA is also considering updating the passive infrastructure sharing regulations to streamline investment as well as promote competition in the services.

What efforts are being made to further expand the fiber optic network in Muscat and the rest of Oman?

Oman Broadband Company (OBC) is mandated to provide fiber access network for the greater Muscat area after inheriting the fiber access network from the government's Muscat wastewater initiative. As per the project plan, OBC would reach out to all properties in the Muscat area by the year 2021 in a progressive manner. OBC has also drawn up plans to provide similar access networks in other parts of the country working closely with utilities (electricity, water, and wastewater). It is expected that fiber access networks would service all metropolitan areas in the Sultanate by 2025 either through OBC or through other telecom licensees who work to complement each other's efforts.

What consumer protection initiatives has TRA launched, and what consumer issues are you currently evaluating?

TRA's website has dedicated and common resources for consumers to get to know various protection mechanisms available and familiarize themselves with coverage, quality of services, and pricing information. They are provided with the procedure to seek TRA's intervention when efforts to settle their grievances with the licensees fail. TRA has facilitated the channels of communication and reach to the consumers through active call center operations and digital connectivity. Furthermore, TRA has launched campaigns that interact directly with the consumer and raise greater awareness, such as Don't be Deceived and Be Smart. Moreover, TRA is currently preparing an upcoming regulation that will regulate and provide clear parameters about consumers' rights and obligations in order to facilitate the protection of consumers when it comes to their relationship with operators in the Sultanate.

What are TRA's initiatives for the next 12 months?

TRA will issue a license for the third mobile network operator soon. Implementation of access and interconnection regulations is in progress, and dominant operators are expected to publish their reference access and interconnection offers within three months of TRA's decision.