Monitoring the terms and conditions of tariffs of telecom services

The TRA has noticed that licensees are not transparent enough in displaying their tariffs as per regulations, possibly misleading their customers in some cases. In 2012, the TRA carried out several tests on existing tariff plans to ensure that full transparency measures have been taken in compliance with TRA’s conditions by the licensees.

Over 15 tests on different tariff plans for prepaid, postpaid, voice, data and value added services were conducted. Several re-tests were also conducted, to fully ensure that necessary corrective measures suggested by the TRA have been put into motion by the licensees. Most cases of non-compliance were found to be minor issues regarding transparency of tariffs on the way advertisements were published and on websites. The TRA contacted the licenses not in compliance and requested an immediate correction of their inaccurate or misleading information. In certain cases, TRA issued instructions to the licensees to provide the subscribers with measures to check their telecom usage in order to avoid bill shocks.

Licensees’ websites are also being constantly monitored to ensure that visitors receive accurate, understandable and up to date information regarding the services and charges.

Tariffs of telecom services

During 2012, service providers have been very active in introducing new tariff plans and launching promotions in the market. These activities which cover new services, revisions and promotions handled in comparison with previous years are summarized in the table below.

Telecom Tariff Approvals

As the regulatory body for the industry, the TRA approves all retail tariffs for various telecom services before they are launched in the market. The TRA also, wherever necessary, imposes certain conditions to ensure that the retail tariffs, terms and conditions and any other necessary tariff information are clearly communicated to the customers. This means that beneficiaries or service users can make an informed decision regarding the choice of what the service offers or best plans to subscribe to.

Tariff Transparency

The TRA has developed guidelines to ensure that all licensees comply with the minimum standard of transparency. This assists customers in understanding the tariffs that are being offered to them. In summary, the guidelines require licensees to ensure that transparent and up to date information on applicable prices and tariffs is available to service users. It also highlights the licensee’s duty to disclose all tariff limitations and conditions such as the fair usage policy, validity periods and automatic renewals.

List of offers achieved

As a result of strict Tariff regulations by the TRA to all the retailers, requiring licensees to provide a sufficient level of transparency between them and the customers, many successful plans and promotions were approved by the TRA.

The following are the salient features of the activities of 2012:

Focus on consumers interests

  • Majority of the promotions were related international calls, starter packs and broadband.
  • Groups of countries have been revised down from 10 groups to 5 groups, making announcements simpler.
  • Off-peak times were generalized for all destinations in order to avoid public confusion.
  • Off-peak rates for mobile calls for 185 destinations were reduced up to 76%, resulting in an average reduction of 25%.
  • Peak hour fixed-line calling rates for 89 destinations were reduced up to 41%, resulting in an average reduction of 11.5%.
  • Off-peak hour fixed-line calling rates for 192 destinations were reduced up to 80%, resulting in an average reduction of 43%.
  • During Hajj season, roamers in KSA enjoyed promotional roaming tariffs as low as 70 Bz/Min.
  • Out of bundle rate for post-paid 1 GB package reduced from 15Bz/MB to 8Bz/MB.
  • MOE’s Educational Portal Service was reduced from 1.5 OMR/ student / 6 months to 1 OMR/ parent/ 6 months.
  • Oman Air’s SMS tariff was reduced by 90% from 100 Bz/SMS to 10Bz/SMS.
  • 50% permanent reduction for Internet leased line services for the educational sector.
  • New all-in-one plans and simple packages were introduced, including minutes, SMS/MMS and data.
  • International Internet Protocol Multi-Protocol Label Switching (International IPMPLS) services were introduced to provide connectivity to corporate customers within the country allowing them access to different branches all over and vice versa.
  • Fixed-mobile CPN Service was launched to allow corporate customers for unlimited calls within the same company across the Sultanate.
  • Pre-paid Mobile Business was launched to give business customers convenient recharging and more communication between employees while allowing them to control their cost on mobile spending by utilising a proper credit distribution facility.
  • M-health, a new subscription based service that gives the customer the ability to obtain health information through content.
  • Tailored tariff plan for special needs subscribers was introduced, providing all Omanis and residents holding a disability card issued by Ministry of Social Development a special tariff rate.
  • LTE service, with similar tariffs as a 3G service but with much higher speed, was launched.