A Quest for Intelligence

Mahmood Omar Alzadjali, Manager, Quality of Service Department, Regulatory and Compliance Unit at TRA

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) recently undertook a mobile coverage and quality field measurements project to generate an exhaustive coverage map of mobile operators across Oman. Mahmood Omar Alzadjali, Manager, Quality of Service Department, Regulatory and Compliance Unit at TRA explains more about the project and what it means for consumers and mobile network operators…

In Oman, mobile coverage – be it voice services or mobile broadband services – has been one of the most important issues for mobile customers. In light of this, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) launched a special mobile field measurements initiative that provides comprehensive information about mobile coverage across network operators in Oman.

“In November 2017, the TRA, in cooperation with a consultancy firm, initiated a technical field survey to measure the quality and coverage of mobile telecommunications networks across the Sultanate,” explains Mahmood Omar Alzadjali, Manager, Quality of Service Department, Regulatory and Compliance Unit at TRA. “The entire project lasted six months and a team was deployed to traverse all over the Sultanate – from Musandam to Salalah – to gather this data.”

“Our project had two primary goals,” says Alzadjali. “First, to have a database on the level of coverage and quality of mobile networks across Oman. And secondly, to ensure the availability of comparable information on network coverage and quality of mobile services for each telecom operator. This in turn would assist consumers in making informed purchasing decisions when selecting their preferred service provider at their respective locations.”

The first-of-its-kind study comprised two main parts: The drive test, which surveyed outdoor network coverage for all mobile operators and an indoor coverage assessment across 42 locations. The indoor coverage included public places where there is a high network demand, like shopping malls, airports, universities, etc. The survey entailed direct measurement of voice performance, data performance, and other telecommunication services for all operators.

By the end of 20 weeks, the drive test team had covered over 30,000km and included all populated villages and towns as per the population and housing census data of Oman. And this is no mean feat. According to Alzadjali, “The challenges faced by the team were tremendous. Oman is a vast country with a very scattered population. Add to it challenging terrains, difficult to access areas and extreme weather conditions, one can only imagine how hard it was for the team to conduct the surveyance. Nonetheless, the project was completed on time and we are currently processing the data which will be released by the second quarter of 2018.”

Based on the information gathered by the technical field survey, the TRA will produce an interactive geographical map which will provide information on mobile network coverage across Oman. This coverage map will be developed in coordination with the National Center for Statistics and Information, and will be available on TRA’s website for everyone to access. Not only will it provide information about the strength of coverage (e.g. 2G/3G/4G) but also which network operator has a better download data speed in the area.

“Mobile coverage is one of the main attributes of mobile infrastructure and one to which consumers attach a high importance. Not only will the results of this survey help consumers make better purchase decisions, but will also drive competition and propel operators to better themselves,” he explains. “Improving coverage will also in turn help operators achieve further mobile penetration levels. Ultimately this database will serve as a reference for expansion of communication networks for current and future plans.”

This article was first published in the print edition of OER Dossier – Comex 2018 Special Issue