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The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority is the federal body in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), responsible for the management of every aspect of the telecommunications and information technology industry in the country. H.E. Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori currently holds the position of Director General at the General Authority for Regulating the Telecommunications Sector. Speaking to Telecom Review, H.E. Al Mansoori opened up about some of the organization's recent projects, including its 'Coverage Center' aimed at enhancing the delivery of quality calls.

The TRA has recently launched its 'Coverage Center' in order to enhance the delivery of quality calls. Can you outline to us in detail how this initiative can helps operators improve their customer service?
As part of its package of initiatives aimed at achieving customer satisfaction, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has officially launched a Coverage Center which provides early detection of the quality of coverage of mobile networks in the UAE. The Center provides a field survey to test, measure, analyze the quality of mobile operator networks in the UAE, and simulate user experience. The launch of "Coverage" is an embodiment of the TRA's strategy to improve and develop telecommunications services and improve customer satisfaction by continuously improving the quality of services offered in the UAE.

Etisalat and du have both introduced VoIP-based apps BOTIM and C'ME as part of their 'unlimited' voice and video call service. Are these services regulated by the TRA or the operators?
All provisions of Regulated Activities (the sale, provision and/or operation of public telecommunications services) are provided by licensees only and regulated by the TRA.
Licensees are providing a wide array of telecommunications services in the UAE where BOTIM and C'ME are part of this range of services provided by Etisalat and EITC.

Can you give us your thoughts on the widespread speculation that a third operator is set to enter the telecommunications market in the UAE?
The TRA has implemented a comprehensive competition regulatory framework and continuously monitors the state of the telecommunications market to ensure that those regulations achieve effective competition within the sector. The TRA has also implemented a rate of initiatives to enhance competition, such as a form of network sharing known as "bitstream". Consequently, the UAE has one of the most advanced telecommunication networks in the world, offering innovative, high quality and high speed ICT services. Mobile penetration has reached 228 percent, meaning that each resident has an average of 2.28 active mobile SIMs. Due to the positive outcomes generated by the sector, the TRA does not currently have any plans to issue a third operator license.

The primary objective of the Coverage Centre is to analyze the quality of mobile operator networks in the UAE. However, can you tell us more about the smart system being installed in specially designed vehicles?
The mechanism of the project based on the development of a smart and innovative technology that works on a survey to test, measure, analyze the quality of the mobile operator networks in the country and simulate the user experience. The smart system is being installed in specially designed vehicles, as well as smart devices for interior areas. After the survey is completed, the system transmits data that has been collected automatically and displays it in a special monitoring room TRA that has been specially constructed for the purpose of analyzing data.

How will the TRA utilize and share the data that is conveyed back to the 'Coverage Room' with operators, in order to solve the network issues that have been flagged by the system?
In this coverage room we will analyze the data of the operators' networks and follow up the problems of different networks and solve them as soon as possible in coordination with operators. Network performance reports will be issued and shared with service providers periodically to identify, develop network performance issues and thus improve the services provided to individual, institutional and customers.

The TRA also recently launched the UX Lab. Can you outline to us what the primary benefits of this lab will provide for customers in the UAE?
The user experience lab is the first of its kind in the UAE government, to help develop the digital presence of government entities on the web, smartphone or on service booths. Advanced global methodologies are being implemented in the user experience lab to ensure that websites and smart applications take into account the characteristics of users and meet the needs of enterprises to access services to the highest levels of ease and usability.

The UX Lab provides a comprehensive and integrated mechanism that includes a system to follow the movement of the eye when browsing on the screen, and includes a scientifically proven methodology to ensure global knowledge of the typical behavior of users when trying to search for information or access to digital services. The use trials are conducted by specialized teams with the participation of the stakeholders in each project, and by the presence and participation of real users representing personas for the types of users who need to visit the site, application or service booth.

The TRA is playing a prominent role in advancing the UAE's digital transformation efforts. Can you tell about other initiatives in which you're helping government entities develop their digital services?
The TRA is responsible for two important indicators of the National Agenda that are closely related to digital transformation, the first of which is the Smart Government Services Index and the second on the Network Readiness Index. In the Smart Services Index, the TRA works in close collaboration with various relevant government entities to achieve the target of first ranking globally by 2021, and network readiness targeting one of the top 10 ranking globally.

The TRA's responsibility in these indicators is reflected in its leading of two executive teams formed by the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the future decision. The Executive Team of Smart Government Services is responsible for several subgroups in areas such as the official portal of the UAE Government, E-participation, data and mGovernment Enablers. On a parallel line, the TRA monitors and measures the mGovernment Enablers of the federal entities and works with those entities to develop and apply the relevant standards year after year.

Can you outline to us what the main goals and objectives are for the TRA in 2018?
The TRA aims to develop a fair regulatory environment for the ICT sector in the UAE, to enhance competitiveness and effective sustainability and works to improve the quality of provided ICT services in the UAE, to ensure keeping pace with technological development in the ICT sector. Also, to enable government entities in the field of smart transformation, to enhance the smart lifestyle in the UAE that contribute to achieving the UAE vision 2021, in addition to encouraging investment and innovation, and develop the ICT human capital in the country. 

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