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TRA open to WhatsApp calls if providers accept rules

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The Telecom Regulatory Authority in the Sultanate of Oman is open to adopting changing trends in the sector, it was revealed recently.

Speaking to the Observer, Omar Hamdan al Ismaili, CEO of TRA, said, “We welcome companies and programmes or applications that comply with legal frameworks and licenses. We will welcome services such as the OTT or WhatsApp video and audio or other Voice Over Internet Protocol (VOIP) services, provided they comply with our regulations.”

He added that banning applications have a legal aspect as well as the aspect related to the type of digital content.

On the use of Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), he said, “We follow a flexible policy with the use of VPNs, but if we come across that they have been used for illegal purposes, like in crimes, we do intervene and try to stop such activities. We have certain regulations for VPNs and are currently reviewing their implementation by businesses.”

Al Ismaili added that the government had implemented new regulations to use video-conferencing applications for enterprises.

When asked about the quality of telecom services, compared with other countries in the region, he said, “Oman is a vast country, and some places are remotely located with sparse population. So, we cannot uniformly compare service across the country but need to do it on a city-to-city or area-to-area basis.”

He said there is always scope for improvement and investment in 5G is one of the important initiatives and noted that nearly 80 per cent of the buildings are covered by high-speed broadband.

Next week, TRA will publish a report submitted by an independent party on the pricing of various telecom-related services, including a comparative analysis of products of some key markets.

“With regards, pricing cannot be compared apple to apple as it depends on the packages offered by the providers and needs of the customers- whether it is for individual, business or home purposes.”

At the annual briefing, Ismaili said the most important regulation issued in 2022 was voice or video communication services via the Internet Protocol.

TRA said there is a programme to close 3G networks so that service providers can use 3G spectrum capacities for new technologies such as 4G and 5G.

TRA said it has dealt with more than 30,000 inquiries through all platforms available to the beneficiary with a 20-second average waiting time at the call centre.

An amount worth RO 40,000 was refunded to beneficiaries, while 314 decisions were issued against telecommunications companies.


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