TRA to commission telecom market review

Muscat, July 22 – The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of the Sultanate is preparing a launch a key study aimed at, among other things, dampening the potential for market abuse by the sector’s dominant service providers. The study, in addition, will seek to identify new emerging market segments that would need to be suitably regulated and opened up for market competition. To this end, the TRA yesterday floated a tender inviting competent consultancy firms to compete for an advisory services contract to assist the Authority in carrying out the ‘2nd Review of the Market Definition and Dominance Decision (MDD)’.

The 1st Market Review, which was undertaken in 2013, led to the introduction of Market Definition and Dominance Guidelines. The maiden review, the Authority said, found that both Omantel and Ooredoo were “found to be singly and/or jointly dominant in a number of markets and suitable remedies were imposed to avoid the risk of harm of dominance”. The importance of a periodic market review, the Authority explained, stems from its mandate to determine any acts or events that may stymie competition in the telecom sector. “In accordance with the regulations, the TRA has the mandate to determine which licensees are to be classified as dominant and to put measures in place to prevent the abuse of their dominant positions,” the Authority said in a backgrounder on the upcoming review.
As part of the 2nd Market Review, the selected consultant will be required to carry out a thorough analysis of the telecom sector. This includes a review of all previously defined markets (retail and wholesale), as well as the identification of new markets, where required for fixed, mobile and data services which fall over the overall regulatory remit of the Authority.
“The consultant is expected to identify the competitive conditions affecting the supply of the services by assessing systematically the competitive constraints faced by suppliers of these services. Where dominance is identified, the consultant is expected to propose measures that should be implemented to prevent abuse of dominant position,” the Authority said.
Since the last market review in 2013, the telecom sector in the Sultanate has undergone dramatic developments encompassing not only the introduction of new players and services, but also changes in the substitutability of services and competition, the Authority said.
Also set to transform the telecom landscape are new concepts, such as Over-The-Top (OTT) content, IP interconnection, Internet-of-Things (IoT), cloud computing, Internet exchange points, and so on. All of these new developments are set to alter existing market definitions and dominant positions, the Authority noted.
The selected consultant will also be required to collect data on the following: Service providers and their portfolio of services; Market share data (sales value and volume); Product functionality; Prices and costs; Inputs; Substitute products; Principal competitors; and Market entry conditions. A public consultation on the market review is envisioned before a final report is published.
Besides Omantel and Ooredoo, the Omani telecom market also includes the following licensees: TeO and Connect Arabia International (International Telephony through calling cards), Friendi and Renna (Mobile Resellers), Awasr (Fixed Broadband), and Oman Broadband Company (Passive Infrastructure for Broadband).

Conrad Prabhu