We had begun refocusing the organization and had revisited our strategic vision and mission last year, beginning a journey to transform ourselves as a Performance Focused Organization. To this end, we have committed ourselves in enabling World Class services to all by 2018. In the definition and quantification of the Vision, we identified four dimensions as attributes of world class services – Quality, Price, Coverage, and Choice. We have dedicated our resources to ensure that we have the right regulatory environment that will enable us to meet identified targets by 2018. In addition we have developed a comprehensive Strategy on a foundation of values that we treasure – Fairness, Transparency, Accountability, Teamwork, Customer Focus and Ethics.
Quality and Reliability
Last year we conducted a comprehensive quality audit and we shared with you the results. The audit also identified areas of improvement in the quality of service regulations, which we have addressed through extensive consultations with the stakeholders and we will issue the new regulations in 2015 after following the due legal process. We have taken measures to improve our efficiency in our oversight of the quality of services across the Sultanate through the development of an automated monitoring system. This system will continuously monitor and measure a live network’s QoS and will accurately collect quality measurements as perceived by subscribers which will then be analyzed and resulting actions will be taken, including sharing the results with the beneficiaries.
Prices and Fostering Competition
Affordable prices are a key driver in the usage of services and we recognize the important role competition plays in assuring affordability together with the quality, reliability and availability of services. To improve our understanding we partnered with the Sultan Qaboos University to ascertain where Oman stands as benchmarked with GCC and other selected countries in respect of the prices of retail telecommunication services for Fixed Voice, Fixed Broadband, Mobile Voice and Data, and International calls. The study was based on the publicly available data and information by operators’ websites of the respective countries.
We are working towards issuing the Interconnection and Access regulations to increase competition as well as issuing Retail Tariff regulations to protect the beneficiaries’ interest from any price abuse that could be practiced by the dominant licensees. The retail tariff regulations will be aimed at giving more flexibility to the licensees that are not dominant in a specific market in introducing new packages which will facilitate faster mechanism for new offers and more choices to the end-users while protecting them from any price abuses in other dominant markets.
Towards total Coverage and Providing Choices to the Consumers
We engaged with the various Government bodies and operators to address and expedite rights of way acquisition process for building telecom towers in order to secure coverage of telecom services to the unserved/underserved villages in various region of the Sultanate. We have been able to reach positive conclusions with different directorates of the Ministries of Housing, Environmental, Municipalities, and Governor Offices and the operators in this regard. We expect that, with these understandings, the unserved and underserved villages will be covered adequately with telecom services by 2018.
We ensured connectivity to 120 schools identified by the Ministry of Education with high speed Fibre/Wimax by Ooredoo as part of their license obligations. With Omantel, the company confirmed the fixed broadband rollout completion and now the residents of over 1400 villages would be able to subscribe to fixed broadband services.
As per the directives of the Government, we are supervising the implementation of the Fiber to the Home project in Mad’ha. Once completed, around 800 plots will be connected with fibre access network links and the infrastructure shall be connected later by the telecom service providers to the network for the provision of telecom services.
We continued with our efforts to bring more choices to the users through the issue of licenses and authorizations.
On the World stage
To enable world class services we need to understand where the world is headed in the current digital world and be able to compete on the global stage. I was honored to chair the meeting of Regulatory Associations as well as the Arab Regulator Network (ARGNET) during the 14th Global Symposium of Regulators (GSR) held at the Kingdom of Bahrain in June 2014.
We are proud to be recognized for our contributions as a sector member of the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) with our team receiving the Award of the 10 year Anniversary Ceremony on 1 October 2014 at Geneva on our behalf.
We signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Poland during the year to cooperate in matters of mutual interest through the exchange of ideas, information, personnel, skills and experience in the field of regulating the telecommunication and postal sectors.
The road ahead
We will track the progress compared to the Vision dimensions and we plan to engage with the end-user through a survey to gain a better understanding of the consumers’ perception with regard to Quality, Price, Coverage and Choice.
During the coming four years we will focus our energies in creating a communications sector that will provide every user access to world class Quality at affordable Prices. To this we will continuously be working on the process to increase the number of licensees in the market providing more choice to the consumers.
I am extremely grateful to lead a team who with their hard work are transforming the organization towards a shared Vision. I thank all the stakeholders and licensees for their approach to the regulatory framework. I am thankful to the Board for their continuous support and guidance under the vision and wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos.
Dr. Hamad Bin Salem Al-Rawahi
Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
Sultanate of Oman