No more call drops and SMS delays, says TRA

Telecom regulator’s Coverage Centre to monitor real-time network coverage in the UAE

Dubai: Dropped calls or delays in sending messages will be minimised or will soon be a thing of the past in the UAE, officials said on Tuesday.


Telecom experts are going around the country to monitor and ensure that network coverage is uninterrupted across the seven emirates to promote the happiness of residents.

The Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA) on Tuesday launched its “Coverage Centre” at its headquarters to survey, measure and analyse the quality of mobile operator networks in the UAE and simulate user experience. The centre was launched on the International Day of Happiness in a bid to keep residents happy as they are increasingly becoming dependent on these networks for work and for life in general.

“We are improving our telecom service to make sure users are having better coverage and also to be proactive that if there is any issue in the coverage, we can act and contact telecom networks to improve their coverage,” Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, director-general of TRA, said.

“Now in any kind of emergency, telecommunication will play the main role: police cars will depend on having telecom coverage, ambulance, doctors, all of them need this infrastructure so we’re always testing it.”

Al Mansouri said the project was also initiated due to some user feedback.

“We usually receive complaints from users because of the coverage. We know that there are some static variable coverage from time to time. The coverage may be good today but the next day it won’t because a lot of factors are affecting coverage like humidity, antenna movement due to wind, among others. You need to test all these things frequently especially in areas where there are a lot of development.”

The Coverage Centre works as the operations control room and receives live feed from mobile units that are doing the field testings. Three cars drive daily around the country in a planned route and each emirate is divided into clusters. Areas that are inaccessible to cars are surveyed by a drone while people with equipment on backpacks do the field testing in malls and covered areas. During the launch on Monday, officials demonstrated that one of the TRA cars was in Al Ruwais and showed the poor coverage in the area.

Al Mansouri said the international standard for a good network coverage is pegged at 92 per cent. The UAE has set its mark at 96 per cent, which includes factors like quality of service, waiting times for calls to connect, download speed, and other factors.

Mohammad Al Saadi, manager, Telecom Networks Operations at TRA, said monitoring of coverage is to the advantage of users as it would lead to stiffer competition among the telecom networks. He said the centre checks the quality of the services of the licensees, “the most important of which are the quality standards of voice services, data services that include mobile phone coverage, call completion rate”, The rate of success in making mobile calls, the rate of call interruption, as well as the quality of voice in mobile networks will be checked to ensure that the service is available.

Meanwhile, TRA also launched its User Experience Lab (UX Lab) to help develop the digital presence of government entities on the web, smartphone or on service booths by making them user-friendly and more engaging.

BOX: HOW IT WORKS:

Three cars equipped with monitors are driven around the country to check for network coverage. In areas that are hard to reach by car, a drone is deployed. People with equipment in their backpacks are sent to enclosed public spaces like malls or buildings.

The testers use different devices to simulate user experience to check the network coverage and the data collected are fed live into the Coverage Centre. The data is analysed and a report is then sent to the concerned telecom provider. TRA will then give the provider time to come up with a plan to improve the service and to implement it.

After improvements have been made, TRA will monitor the place again to ensure that the problem was resolved.

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