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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 26/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) In a major policy change decision, the Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) is seeking to review the current licensing framework in order to simplify entry procedures and licence awards, in addition to enhancing the level of competition in the telecommunication sector.Based on the findings of a study related to the historic and present context of the current licensing framework, the approach taken towards the assessment of applications for and the grant of licences has been conservative so far.'Comments received from stakeholders consulted during the course of the study and the authority's own analyses suggest that the present licensing framework may be perceived as a barrier to entering the Omani telecommunication market,' said a statement on the TRA website.In order to change this, TRA is seeking public opinion through a consultation paper on the Draft Licensing Framework in the sultanate. The authority is seeking comments from interested parties and stakeholders on its proposals. Subsequent to the receipt of comments, a substantive licensing framework will be set out.According to the authority, the objective of the new licensing framework is to facilitate the realisation of the General Policy Framework 2012 - recently app-roved by the Council of Ministers - that sets out broad requirements like increasing Internet penetration whilst focussing on high speed broadband access, preparing suitable conditions for effective competition in providing infrastructure and telecom services, and expanding the availability of a full range of telecom services in unserved wilayats.The authority feels that in order to achieve the objectives, there is a need to review the regulatory framework and associated measures, and also to modify the current licensing framework to simplify entry procedures and licence awards.Based on the outcome of the TRA study, there were views that the processes associated with lic-ence applications and approvals take too long, are too expensive and require too many layers of approval; and obligations associated with certain licences may be considered onerous by prospective market entrants.'Overall, the present licensing framework rules and approval processes have been identified to be a disincentive to market entry,' said the authority. 'In recognition of the factors, the authority considers that it must seek to modernise the entire licensing frame- work surrounding market entry and governance of markets.'


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