Tuesday, March 27, 2007

big help that is

Following the commencement of the COMEX 2007 exhibition in the Oman International Exhibition Centre here in Muscat, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority has announced in the local newspapers that it will be participating in the exhibition to answer upon customer queries; business and individual, alike.

This is mainly to clarify upon its role in organizing the telecommunications sector here in the Sultanate of Oman.

But all that can be said is that it is one of the brainwash methods that it will be using to convince Omanis and non-Omanis about how badly it is doing. Mainly because of the discrepancies that are being hidden by the organization in developing the sector.

If you want to know more, comment here or ask them yourself when you visit COMEX 2007.



- TRA answers to customer queries (in Arabic)


A LSE Cardinal said...

Dont you think you are being pretty judgemental by stating they are doing a bad job, or do you have specific examples?

Sleepless In Muscat said...

I'm glad someone has finally gone and asked me about this otherwise I would have blown up the 'secret'.

When the government 'privatised' the telecommunications sector in Oman, it formed what it called a regulatory body by the name of Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. A body that is supposedly unbiased in anyway whatsoever.

Having said that; people here in Oman don't know the full scope of the whole game that is being played under their noses - the Minister of Telecommunications is the same man who is the President of OmanTel and is the same person who is the Chairman of the TRA.

Don't you find that the least bit odd?

Also, the contract that Nawras came under into the 'competition' is one that is of questionable existence because one clause of that contract says that the new mobile operator must use the existing service provider's network for various telecommunications services it avails to the customers.

Ever heard of 3G?

Nawras is up and ready to roll it out but can't because of that certain clause which is the reason behind OmanTel's lacking back in basic consumer services and broadband width for such a service.

Nawras has to pay OmanTel per international call it patches through their network because of that clause, too?

Where is the competition?

And how about consumer protection? When OmanTel's broadband service is down there's no say about compensation for its over 90,000 subscribers broadband or otherwise. Where's the TRA from that?

The TRA is choosing to take a backseat on things except when it feels like it when they issued very recently in the local newspapers the ban on selling VoIP services in internet cafe's because of 'illegal competition'. That's like the time they delayed the arrival time for neighboring newspapers into Oman to give Omani newspapers a headstart into sales.

This isn't a competition. It's total manipulation of the WTO game.

Do I think I am being judgemental? Damn straight, I am. And for a good reason, too.

A LSE Cardinal said...

Ok SIP, I'm not in any way going to disagree with you but i'll just state true facts given by a person deep in the telecom sector and you be the judge. I'll go point by point:

1. TRA was formed before by Telecom Law issued by Royal Decree 30/2002 hence it was more than 2 years before the actual privitisation of Omantel.

2. When it was in the transitionary phase your statement of the Chairman of Omantel, TRA and the Minister being the same individual is true, but this has changed as the Minister is the Chairman of TRA only. The Chairman of Omantel is the head of taxation from the Ministry fo Finance.

3. Nawras was not given a contract but was issued a license by Royal Decree. Any provider of telecommunications services in Oman will require a license. As it is impossible for any company to come and set up their network to cover the entire country from day 1, they were allowed as part of their license to use Oman Mobiles network on the condition that they wil expand their network. They are required to follow an aggressive network expansion plan which is in their license and failing to do so will result in heavy penalties. As they expand, their dependence on Oman Mobiles network declines.

4. Nawras is required to provide 3G as per their license but they are yet to design a pricing structure that will make it economically feasible and has nothing to do with Omantels customer service.

5. International calls are not part of Mobile licenses issued to both Oman Mobile and Nawras. This is a service included in the fixed license issued to Omantel and any future fixed licensee. Both Oman Mobile and Nawras purchase international minutes from Omantel and sell them to their customers. The prices of all services are required to be approved by TRA before they are offered to the public.

6. With regards to consumer protection, again as part of the license issued to all operators theere is a condition which requires the operators to file a consumer protection plan to TRA for its approval. If in any case any consumer has a dispute of compain they can come and file it with TRA which goes down heavily on the operators. But before coming to TRA the consumer needs to try and resolve it with the operator and in the case he/she is not satisfied then they can escalalte the matter to TRA.

So SIP, I hope I clarified your concerns and feel free to ask me anything else as I can get the information from a reliabale source. With regards to VOIP like I said before, interntional services are under the domain of the fixed licensee and by using VOIP consumers are just bypassing the fixed licensees network. As the TRA will be liberalising the international calls market foreign companies will not find it attractive unless they can guarantee revenues from such a service. By allowing unlicensed VOIP use that will just bring that service into dissaray.

Hope I have been clear and once again you can be the judge.

Sleepless In Muscat said...

A LSE Cardinal:

My friends call me either Sleepless or SIM. Take your pick.

1. Your source is probably wrong because it was only one year apart from announcing a TRA to regulate the telecom market and Nawras' launch. Please clarify this.

2. If you check all the webpages of the OmanTel; the TRA and the Ministy of Telecommunications. You'll find the same person resides as the president/chairman of them all still. But to be sure, just check. As that was the case when I last check which was not so long ago. It's not my fault if they don't update their webpages accordingly.

3. You could be right about developing their network. But there is a timeframe for that. And unfortunately, they cannot roll out the so-called 3G because Oman Mobile's network is just too old and under-developed as it was stated by the company not so long ago.

4. You're correct about this point - you'll have no argue whatsoever from my side.

5. Having said what you said about consumer protection, then it is in the organization's responsibility to inform the public of their rights in this field. But the TRA doesn't move an inch in this issue. All it does is issue public ads banning this or that.

6. VoIP is not an 'illegal activity' because OmanTel doesn't provide it. So there is a niche market that sees this as a undeveloped surface to be taken advantage of.

A LSE Cardinal said...

Whats up SIM, sorry for the mistake. Ok i'll quit beating around the bush and tell you that I work for the TRA and have been since it started. It was established by the Royal Decree in 2002 and Nawras was awarded by a royal decree in 2005. I absolutely agree with the fact that more needs to be done to make the public aware of TRA functions and trust me we are working on that.

Our Chairman is H.E. the Minister of Transport and Communication and the Chairman of Omantel Saud bin Nasser Al-Shukaily so they are 2 different individuals.

Last but not least, VOIP is a technology and not a service. Its a technology to offer a service and by people using it to provide international calls they are doing so without being licensed which is an offence.

I would love to sit with you and explain more, and trust me we are working more on our public imaage but I respect your concerns every bit.

Sleepless In Muscat said...

A LSE Cardinal:

At least now I know that my concerns are finally being heard.

Took you long enough.

Just kidding.

Welcome to the blog, friend. :o)

A LSE Cardinal said...

LOL thanks man, and you can ask me anything you want I'll do my best to answer it

Sleepless In Muscat said...

Much appreciated.

Good luck on your long journey to freeing us from the OmanTel monopoly game!


Per Your Request said...

Wow, and I missed all this.