Home EMEAEMEA 2007 Telecom regulation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

Telecom regulation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)

by david.nunes
Mohamed Al-GhanimIssue:EMEA 2007
Article no.:3
Topic:Telecom regulation in the United Arab Emirates (UAE)
Author:Mohamed Al-Ghanim
Title:Board Member and Director General of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority
PDF size:236KB

About author

Mohamed Al-Ghanim is a Board Member and Director General of the UAE Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA. Mr Al- Ghanim is also the Executive-in-Charge of the UAE Telecom and E-Commerce chapters in the Free Trade Agreement negotiations, and the free trade negotiations with the USA and Australia; the Vice-Chairman of the UAE ICT Fund; and, Chairman of the UAE Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Mr Al-Ghanim began his career at Etisalat and advanced through the ranks to the highest managerial post in the GMPCS Department. He was later seconded by Etisalat to work for Thuraya Satellite Telecommunication Company since its inception, where he worked as Senior Product Manager. During his working years at Etisalat and Thraya, Al-Ghanim represented the UAE in several regional and international telecoms and IT-related forums and conferences. Mohamed Al-Ghanim graduated from the Etisalat College of Engineering.

Article abstract

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, of the United Arab Emirates, during its two-year history, has built an organisation and formulated a regulatory framework to encourage competition and build the sector. The TRA has developed a new Internet domain name (.ae) and established a Computer Emergency Response Team, aeCERT, to coordinate cyber security. Thanks to TRA fostered competition, the UAE ranks first in the Arab World in the Global Information Technology Reportís Networked Readiness Index, NRI, produced by the World Economic Forum.

Full Article

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, TRA, of the United Arab Emirates, UAE, established by the UAE Federal Law by Decree No. 3 of 2003 – Telecom Law, at its beginning had to face the twin challenges of building an organization and formulating a regulatory framework that enabled the beginnings of competition in the UAE. The Telecommunications Law, its Executive Order and the National Telecommunications Policy define the organizational objectives of the TRA. The TRAís strategy is to develop the UAEís telecom and ICT sector by protecting the market from monopolies, manipulation and serious fluctuations and launching initiatives to enhance the sector. The TRA works to encourage the growth of the telecom and ICT sector in the UAE to make it a regional pioneer and to prepare it to become a world leader with respect to infrastructure, services and related projects and initiatives. Hence, the TRA launched a number of initiatives, such as investing in and developing a new domain name -.ae – as the UAEís designation on the World Wide Web. A single neutral body develops and administers the domainís policy, facilitates access by UAE Internet users to the domain name, and markets the .ae domain name to foster growth. The domainís administration works to enhance the integrity of its name and serves to strengthen the UAEís cultural values. The administrator strives to follow the worldís ëbest practicesí and procedure with regard to the registryís technical management. The administrative body also seeks to increase competition in the sale of the .ae domain names. A new TRA initiative, the United Arab Emirates Computer Emergency Response Team, aeCERT, is setting up a UAE cyber security coordination centre. This initiative will facilitate the detection, prevention and response to a wide range of cyber security incidents on the Internet. The aeCERT will enhance the effectiveness of current cyber security laws and assist in the creation of new laws. Its duties will include: ï enhanceing information security awareness in the UAE; ï building national expertise in information security; ï handling incident management and computer forensics; ï providing a central, trusted point of contact for cyber security incident reporting in the UAE; ï establishing a national centre to disseminate information about threats, vulnerabilities and cyber security incidents; ï fostering the establishment of, and providing, assistance to sectorbased Computer Security Incidents Research Teams, CSIRTs; ï coordinate with domestic and international CSIRTs and related organizations; and, ï becoming an active member of recognized security organizations and forums. I also expect that aeCERT will present a successful proactive and structured approach to deter future cyber security incidents. The TRA has also completed its first evaluation of the coverage and quality of the UAE Telecom operatorsí Mobile Networks. Both 2G and 3G mobile networks have been assessed for coverage and quality measures. The evaluation project covered all of the UAEís emirates. More than 7,000km was covered and more than 6,000 calls were made. The TRA intends to conduct such tests and evaluation of the mobile network on a regular basis. The assessment aimed at replicating the mobile user experience of the UAE Mobile Network. The TRA has evaluated the results of the study and is speaking with the telecom operators about possible enhancements of the consumer experience. Bearing in mind that maintaining a healthy mobile network is a challenge, operators need to monitor and optimise their cellular networkís performance continuously. Many factors affect the cellular network, such as the increase in the number of users, the introduction of different services and the establishment of new sites in the network. The cellular network works like a mesh, where one site can affect a larger area containing several sites. Since the introduction of competition in the UAE telecom sector, and with the TRA operating for less than two years, the UAE ranked first in the Arab World in the Networked Readiness Index, NRI, according to the Global Information Technology Report produced by the World Economic Forum. Furthermore, among the Arab States, the UAE has the highest fixed-line penetration, the highest mobile penetration and the highest Internet penetration, proving the widespread usage of information and communications technology in the UAE – one of the main indicators of the technological progress of the country. The TRA is also actively engaged in fulfilling its obligation to act as a responsible corporate citizen. It has identified stakeholders to which it owes an obligation to act as a responsible corporate citizen, including the people of the UAE, the agencyís customers, its suppliers and its employees. For the benefit of the people of the UAE, the TRA is responsible for organising several public awareness campaigns relating to the responsible usage of mobile phones, about consumer rights and other worthy public causes. The latest among these campaigns was The National Telecom Recycling Campaign, related to mobile phones and batteries. The campaign was launched in June this year, in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of Environment & Water, EnviroFone, Etisalat (the UAEís largest telecom provider), du (the second telecom provider) and Gulf for Good. Environmental awareness is fundamental to our socio-economic development, and an element in preserving public health and guaranteeing a safe environment. The initiative is part of our contribution to making the UAE government environmental strategy viable, and part of our standing policies regarding corporate social responsibility. The TRA has also participated in career fairs in 2005 and enabled workplace training for graduated trainees from higher colleges of technology and the UAE University. We have encouraged art in the UAE by buying local art items for our offices, as well as business gifts for visitors. The TRA has sponsored and supported several events and causes, including the Zayed International Race and the International Symposium on signal processing, and contributed to charity, youth events and is bidding on organising IEEE events in the UAE. As for its ëcustomersí, the TRA has set up the framework for a consumer affairs section to address consumer issues and has issued a number of regulations and policies protecting the rights of consumers of telecom services. We have also implemented a system that allows its customers – the frequency licence holders – to pay directly into TRA bank accounts, thereby avoiding travel to the TRA offices to pay their licence fees. As for its suppliers, the TRA maintains supplier payment on a timely basis and encourages national businesses by using national airlines like Etihad and Emirates. With regard to its employees, the TRA has made a significant investment in Manpower Development. It has produced a well-defined human resources manual defining employee rights and obligations, carried out an Employee Satisfaction Survey and taken several measures to address the issues raised, and introduced performance bonuses to reward performance. We have high levels of ëEmiratisationí (60 per cent), a high level of female employment opportunities (35 per cent), and a series of employee benefits for nursing mothers, timeoff for employees pursuing further studies, suggestion boxes, regular staff gatherings, and rewards for exemplary performance. In the final analysis, with the Middle Eastís major telecom events – GITEX, GULFCOMMS, MECOM etc, – making the UAE their annual headquarters, and the countryís many Internet cities, the UAE is, without doubt, a leading hub for the ICT sector, regionally and internationally.

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