The Administrative Court of Muscat issued its final verdict on Tuesday in favour of 60 Omanis in a lawsuit they filed against the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA), Oman Telecommunications Company, Omantel, and Omani Qatari Telecommunications (Ooredoo).
The Omanis based their claims on the quality of service provided by the telecom providers, monitoring the prices of services provided by the two main telecom companies.
Turki Al Maamari, the defence lawyer, called on the TRA to address the grievance of 60 nationals and order Omantel and Ooredoo to pay all the legal expenses.
Al Maamari told Al Balad news site that the next step would be to follow up on the procedures of implementing the verdict against those telecom providers.
Al Maamari tweeted in October 2013 that he presented a preliminary complaint to the companies before resorting to the judiciary.
“Omantel neglected to respond, reacting by cutting the landline of my office,” said Al Maamari.
He added that both TRA and Ooredoo responded politely to the complaint.
The ruling sets a precedent as it is the first time customers have won a case against the telecom giants.
Many Omanis took to social media to express their resentment at what they perceive to be exorbitant rates for poor quality of telecom services provided by the two companies.
Ahmad Al Mashari, a resident of Wadi Kabir area of Mutrah province, told Gulf News that there was very poor coverage where he stays, despite his repeated complaints to the telecom companies.
“I really welcomed the decision by the court, as it will put more pressures on the telecom [companies] to improve their quality,” said Al Mashari.
Dr Ahmad Bin Mohammad Al Futaisi, Minister of Transport and Communications, early last year urged the telecom operators to provide the best quality services to subscribers.
That came after repeated complaints from subscribers about the poor services of the communication operators, said the minister.
Naser Al Harasi, a communication expert, told Gulf News that communication operators have to do more to provide decent services, “and not only think of making huge profits from the pockets of the subscribers”.
“Issuing the verdict in favour of the citizens is a turning point in the telecom sector in Oman, pushing them to reconsider the issue,” said Al Harasi, adding that many areas in Muscat suffer from poor telecom services.
The TRA issued a decision last April asking Omantel to pay five million riyals (Dh47.69 million) in relation to cases involving the interruption of communication services on November 17, 2014 for more than nine hours.
The TRA found that the company breached its obligations related to taking the steps necessary to ensure the continued provision of services to beneficiaries.
Omantel had encountered a technical fault in the network on November 17 last year, which caused the interruption of telecommunications services in fixed and mobile phones.
It also affected local banks, resulting in financial losses exceeding one million riyals and causing a wave of resentment among nationals on social media.
Omanis launched a Twitter hashtag demanding that the authorities hold the company accountable for the disruption.
The company apologised for a technical failure as soon as the network was back again.
Omantel is the biggest service provider in Oman, its net profit increased to 127.2 million riyals in the second quarter of 2015.
By Fahad Al Mukrashi
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