TRA-Oman

TRA-Oman greenlights additional spectrum during Covid-19

03 April 2020 | Melanie Mingas

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The Telecoms and Regulatory Authority of Oman, TRA-Oman, is to offer licensees additional frequency bands without obtaining a radio licence, while providing additional C-band spectrum as required.

The measures are part of a 12-point plan released by TRA-Oman detailing how it is working with operators and service providers in the Sultanate to safeguard connectivity during the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

The document stated that the TRA had offered “an opportunity for the licensees to use additional frequency bands without obtaining radio license during this period if necessary”. It will allow them to use the planned frequencies required for “delivering services or connect the base stations”.

Further, TRA will “assign [licensed companies] additional spectrum, especially in the C-band, to improve the quality of service and mitigate the pressure on the telecommunication networks if they wish”.

Employee protections also featured on the list with TRA confirming it had instructed licensees to “take all the preventative measures within the environment of business companies” to reduce infection spread between workers, although it stopped short of specifying how.

While the measures are likely to mitigate some operational challenges, they also extend to pricing with TRA urging providers to “review prices” and “introduce incentive offers” to services.

On more technical points, TRA said it had taken measures:

  • To ensure an easy access to networks from multiple points through several access points from different areas.
  • To allow the licensees to provide telecommunications services by activating the wireless broadband service through WFBB-LTE-FDD using the 4G frequencies that were temporarily licensed for the mobile telecommunications services.
  • To encourage the licensees to operate the National Roaming Facility whenever necessary.

Telco provision to small businesses must continue regardless of the business’s ability to pay at this time and telecom companies must “forbear the approval requirements for such offers… during this emergency period”.

Oman has also relaxed its strict rules around VoIP calling. Along with other Gulf countries including the UAE, it now allows VPN-free access to Skype for Business, Google Meet, Zoom and Webex, which are usually blocked in favour of local solutions.

Elsewhere, TRA is looking to provide a free distance learning facility in cooperation with the Ministry of Education to all educational institutions with websites edu.om domains, to “spare parents and students from any extra financial burdens”.

On 1 April, Oman registered its first death from Covid-19. On the same day the Ministry of Health reported an increase of 18 new confirmed cases and 34 recoveries.

At the time of writing on 3 April, the country had 252 confirmed cases of Covid-19.