TRA moves to unlock transformative power of IoT

Conrad Prabhu –
Muscat, JAN 22 –
Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is preparing the initial groundwork for the formulation of a regulatory groundwork that will enable telecom users — individuals, businesses and organisations — to harness the transformative power of the Internet of Things (IoT) to drive efficiency and automation, enhance convenience and service delivery, and fuel economic growth across all sectors on an exponential scale.
As a first step, the Authority has announced a public consultation designed to elicit feedback from various stakeholders on the regulatory steps it would need to take in order to facilitate the uptake of IoT in the Sultanate.
The Internet of Things is essentially a network that allows all manner of smart devices — any tangible item that has sensors and software — to communicate with each other and share data that can be harnessed to deliver all kinds of benefits. These devices can range from microwave ovens to cars, buildings and even aeroplanes.
In value terms, these benefits potentially translate into several trillions of dollars in new economic activity, GDP growth and wealth generation for the global economy over the next decade, according to pundits. Almost every facet of life and professional discipline has the potential to be transformed with IoT adoption, it is stressed.
“As part of its mandate towards embracing new technologies and services in the telecom sector in the Sultanate, TRA is continuing the work it started to formulate an appropriate regulatory position that will support the uptake of the IoT,” said the Authority in its preamble to the consultation document.
In this regard, it has welcomed the perspectives and inputs of stakeholders on the legal, technical and regulatory implications of IoT connectivity in light of the immense numbers of devices, along with the associated applications, that could potentially be connected to the platform.
IoT connectivity, the TRA noted, would necessitate additional spectrum and network infrastructure to provide the required wireless connectivity for this new service. Also likely to be required are interoperable IoT standards to allow devices from different sectors to communicate with one another.
Security and privacy of data collected and stored by IoT devices are issues that will need to be suitably dealt with as well, according to the regulator. “With the development and proliferation of IoT services, it becomes increasingly important to ensure secure and reliable communication among connected IoT devices,” it said.
“Different services will have different requirements for security and resilience. Many consumer services will not require a highly resilient network connection since temporary service interruptions will not significantly impact the integrity of the service provided. On the other hand, services that control important processes will require high levels of security and service availability,” the Authority stressed.
Furthermore, an increasing number of less secure connected devices, which are exposed to a wider audience, can become a potential privacy and information security target that can have negative effects on consumer perception of security and acceptance of IoT services, the TRA warned.
Another key area that would require some resolution is the need for electronic addresses, including Internet addresses, telephone numbers and other identifiers to identify the IoT devices, the Authority stated.
The Authority has set a February 20 deadline for the receipt of inputs from market stakeholders.