Oman designates 450-470MHz bands for 3G usage

Oman’s TRA has floated the idea of licensing spectrum in the 450-470MHz bands for 3G services amongst other Arab regulators but few had shown interest in the plan.

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By  Tawanda Chihota Published  January 23, 2006

Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is the first regulator in the Arab World to stipulate that 3G services will be offered utilising spectrum in the 450-470MHZ bands, CommsMEA can reveal. The manager of the frequency allocation, assignment and planning department of Oman’s TRA, Yousuf Abdullah Al Balushi told CommsMEA that the regulatory body had floated the idea amongst other Arab regulators but few had shown interest in licensing spectrum in the 450-470MHz bands for 3G services. Al Balushi, however, says the Oman TRA remains committed to the plan. “We are the only Arab country to plan to license 3G services in 450-470MHz bands,” Al Balushi told CommsMEA. “Most 3G services are licensed in the 2GHz band. Some of the older-fashioned countries and some European countries are going to license 3G in the 450-450MHz-band for a simple reason. The reason is that when they opened up for 3G services, all the licensees paid millions of dollars, but the way we are approaching domestic 3G is not like this,” Al Balushi explained. “Because with 3G you have the 900-band and then later on you have the1800-band. To introduce 3G in 2GHz you need a big infrastructure spend, for the simple reason that for 2G if you are using the 900MHz, and for example you need two base stations, to cover the same area with 2GHz, you need at least six stations,” he added. Frequencies in the 400MHz band were historically used for analogue NMT networks, and in the digitalisation of these systems, Qualcomm-developed CDMA technology gained the early ground, and has since come to dominate the provision of digital technology in this band. cdma2000 technology (specifically CDMA450) is the 3G technology of choice available in the 400MHz band, and Al Balushi expects operators to use it when they come to launching 3G services. “…We studied what is taking place in Oman, (and) we found that the country is not very mountainous in rural areas, so we planned this band (450-470MHz) to provision 3G services to rural areas because we’re thinking in the future when we license any companies for mobile generally, those companies will look to where they receive benefits, where their are customers,” Al Balushi says. “ So we have our plan now to provision our (3G) services within this band so we can force the companies to provide these services for our people everywhere.” Both incumbent mobile operators Oman Mobile and Nawras have previously expressed an interest in migrating their networks to 3G, but have not stipulated a timeframe, and Al Balushi confirms that neither has yet applied to the TRA for a concession to launch 3G services yet.

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