The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) won the Web award for the best eGovernment service provided to the private sector, during the traditional December ceremony aimed to present Sultan Qaboos Awards for Excellence in eGovernment services. This achievement comes as part of the continuous success made by TRA’s Frequency Spectrum Unit in promoting the quality of e-services offered to the Radio Frequency Spectrum users in Oman. The award rewards TRA for maintaining focus on the e-government policy in order to promote an ICT environment that operates in line with the Sultanate’s trends in the field of e-services.

In this regard, engineer Yousuf Bin Abdullah Al-Balushi, Vice President for Spectrum Affairs said that since its establishment the TRA has sought through dedicated and hard work to provide the best services to all licensees and users of spectrum, whether in public or private sector, in accordance with best common international standards. The ISO 9001:2008 quality certificate  and the ISO 27001:2005 in information security that the TRA Spectrum Management Unit has obtained, as the first government organization in the Sultanate  to acquire these two certificates, are the best evidence for the approach that TRA is adopting in providing high-quality services.

As part of the efforts made by TRA in promoting the quality of e-services offered to the frequency spectrum users in Oman and in keeping abreast of the e-government policy  towards the functions assigned to it to manage the radio spectrum to serve all beneficiaries and parties dealing  with the spectrum in different aspects at the national level, Engineer Yousef Al Balushi pointed out that the TRA has contracted LSI Telecom Company, a major international company in the  management of spectrum software,  for the implementation of an Advanced Automated Spectrum Management System (AASMS) .  The implementation of this system posed a global, unprecedented challenge to the company working on the project as it covers all possible cases as well as unusual cases in spectrum management. It required the system to process  60 different complex commercial transactions ,  in addition to a tremendous amount of technical analysis processes that were not just unidentified by the International Telecommunication Union in Geneva, but also were not developed correctly in software. The system also required to be connected with the Internet to process all transactions automatically, without human intervention. Following  an intensive identification process to align the requirements set with possibilities and options in an appropriate manner, and, as expected, this proved to be  a real challenge because the system had to be programmed on two levels (partial and holistic) to provide all new capabilities required by the TRA.  A temporary server was provided to allow the TRA to test the current status of implementation at all times, and a new room for servers was built by the TRA and equipped with servers for end solutions. System software was delivered in two phases: During the first phase the existing system was replaced and in the second phase additional automatic capabilities and Internet facilities were introduced, in addition to a close link with the TRA versatile system for monitoring and inspection activities.  

The Vice President for Spectrum Affairs added that the TRA is using this system extensively through an automatic mechanism  that follows rules defined by the TRA experts and in accordance with local and international agreements. However, as applicable,  TRA is still in control of transactions and is able to take all critical decisions on its own. In spite of high level of automatic operational control, the knowledge of the TRA experts is still important and valuable to determine the rules that must be followed by the system, and this would ensure that the complex issue of spectrum management remains a human activity that requires interaction and delivery to the beneficiaries of the TRA. It is important to note that the speed of processing applications has increased significantly, while potential errors have clearly  decreased.  This system enables the use of frequency spectrum more efficiently even in most densely  populated areas like Muscat Governorate,  and the close link and the extremely complex analysis in monitoring  the spectrum confirms the need to determine the unused frequency spectrum while the misuse and piracy of radio can be identified in a shorter time. As a long run investment perspective,  the system uses the latest Windows and global networks technology based on  approved international standards, and is scalable for future expansion and can be programmed entirely by the TRA experts to meet the future requirements whenever the need arises.

Compared with the systems that are currently in operation around the world, the TRA Oman Spectrum Management System is actually a new dimension and will for many years build a standard, which not only the region but definitely world-wide spectrum regulators will have to compare their own solutions with as it is currently the most Advanced Automated Spectrum Management system.

He also noted that the increase and sophistication in the use of communities of modern technologies that use radio frequencies have highlighted the importance of spectrum and the ways to develop its management process as an important resource that represents a foundation for developing the telecom infrastructure. He added that modern societies depend on the rapid communications such as mobile, maritime and air communications, satellite communications and broadband services, broadcast and other services , which require access to information at any time and anyplace. This has resulted in an increased pressure on the regulatory bodies responsible for managing the spectrum to ensure speed and efficiency in radio licensing processes and to follow the market approach in terms of speed of processing, as  these new challenges cannot be met without modern systems that are integrated and automated  for spectrum management which provides the services electronically. Acquiring the new advanced system for spectrum management is an important step for the TRA as the system will contribute significantly to upgrading its operations that are provided by the Spectrum Management Unit through providing spectrum licensing services electronically via the Internet, which would be considered a significant contribution to the achievement of the National Strategy for Oman Digital Society and e-government and for meeting the growing need to manage the spectrum resource effectively and adopt optimum methods for using it.

The Vice President for Spectrum Affairs confirmed that acquiring such program by the TRA will meet the needs of users of spectrum in the Sultanate which include speed in issuing, submitting and processing licenses  electronically, especially for operators of telecom services, aviation and ships licenses whom will be able to get the radio license automatically within a few hours, which would be considered as an achievement at the level of the entire region. The new system will  open new prospects for managing the spectrum efficiently in the Sultanate as the spectrum users will be able to complete most of their transactions electronically from their own places and without the need to visit the TRA’s office, such transactions include issuance, renewal, cancellation and amendment of radio licenses;  printing the documentation related to licensing, technical amendments,  pre-calculation of fees, billing, billing information as well as payment and electronic follow-up for licensing process.

As for  the project objectives, the Vice President for Spectrum Affairs said that the project will facilitate the tasks and organisational and technical procedures in managing the spectrum  and will ensure economic and effective use of the spectrum  according to the National Plan for Distributing Frequency Spectrum Bands and the national and international regulations. It will also ensure a high level of security for database of the Advanced Automated Spectrum Management System, speed in processing transactions, human errors reduction through automated and instant mechanism of data validation and automated technical analysis for the coordination of spectrum across international borders. In addition, the new system helped the TRA Spectrum Management in carrying out its functions that are related to spectrum management, such as assisting in managing the daily work flow, the processing operations related to spectrum allocation, planning and distribution, spectrum engineering, coverage forecast,  electromagnetic analysis, calculating the carrier-to-interference–ratio, complaints management, scheduling inspection procedures, controlling the spectrum, developing an interface between spectrum management and spectrum monitoring systems, as well as the provision of geographic information system to determine the geographical locations of frequencies. Engineer  Yousuf bin Abdullah Al Balushi expressed his great joy that the TRA  has won this  precious award, which is considered a medal of  honor and pride being under the name of His Majesty  Sultan Qaboos bin Said, may Allah protect him,  he also stressed  that the award will be a catalyst for further development and progress. Al Balushi explains that he dedicates this  achievement to the TRA Board of Directors and HE the Executive President who made many contributions to the TRA and to the Telecom sector in general during the past three years. He also dedicates this award to the staff of Spectrum Management Unit, with a special mention to the award team who made great efforts to realize this achievement, and to the TRA staff  for their support for the success of this project.