The operation of a Public Telecommunications Network or the Supply of Telecommunications Services to Subscribers in the United Arab Emirates is permitted
only upon obtaining a License or exemption from the Telecommunications Regulatory
Authority (TRA) in accordance with Article 31 of the Federal Law by Decree No. (3) of 2003,
Regarding the Organization of Telecommunications Sector as amended. The License
Regulations issued by the TRA explain the framework of license issuance.
LICENSING REGULATIONS: Licensing refers to the licenses or exemptions granted by the TRA Board of Directors to Entities or Legal persons that are conducting Regulated Activities as defined by the Federal law by Decree No.3 of 2003 Regarding the Organization of the Telecommunications Sector, and its amendments (“The Telecom Law”).
What constitutes a Regulated Activity?
either the operation of a Public Telecommunications Network.
the supply of Telecommunications and Services to Subscribers.
all other types of activities specified by the Board* in accordance with the Provisions of the Law.
* * Resolution No. 2009/44 issued by the Board, specifies that the sale of Telecommunications Services including the sale of SIM cards/ Re-charge cards amounts to a
What is a Telecommunications License?
A license issued pursuant to the provisions of the Law and its Executive Order which allows the Licensee to carry out the Regulated Activity.
What constitutes a Public Telecommunications Network?
A Telecommunications Network operated by the Licensee for the provision of Public
Telecommunications Services pursuant to the provisions of the Law.
What constitutes a Public Telecommunications Service?
Any Telecommunications Services provided to all subscribers or a part thereof in consideration of a fee.
In general terms, this means that the operation, provision and /or sale of a (public) Telecom Network or Telecom service is considered a Regulated Activity and will require a Telecommunications License.
What constitutes a Telecommunications Service?
The services of transmitting, broadcasting, switching or receiving by means of a Telecommunications Network of any of the following:
1. wired and wireless telecommunications;
2. voice, music, and other sounds;
3. visual images;
4. signals used in radio and TV broadcasting;
5. signals used to operate or control any machinery or apparatus;
6. the installation, maintenance, moving or removal of apparatus which is or will be connected to a Public Telecommunications Network;
7. the construction maintenance and operation of networks for telegraph, telephone, telex, leased circuits, domestic and international data networks, Internet and Wireless Transmission;
8. and any other Telecommunications Services approved by the Board;
A Telecommunications Network is: A system comprising one or more items of apparatus or means of communication medium for broadcasting, transmission, switching or receiving of Telecommunications Services.
THE LICENSING FRAMEWORK:
The Licensing framework in UAE includes two types of Licenses*
1. Individual Licenses, which is issued:
• for services which require the usage of scarce resources of spectrum and numbers; and
• for a period of 10 years.
2. Class Licenses, which is issued:
• where there is no need to use scarce resources of spectrum and numbers;
• where due to the insignificance of the activity to the public, less regulatory supervision is required; and
• it will be issued for a period of 10 years.
*All licenses will be issued individually as per Article 28 in the Telecommunications law
Example of some of many activities falling under the definition of Regulated Activities are:
• Mobile Satellite Services
• Public Access Mobile Radio
• Real-time Voice Services (including chargeable Voice over Internet Protocol “VoIP” calls)
• SMS Services (eg. Bulk SMS)
• Broadcasting Satellite Services
• Global Mobile Personal Communications by Satellite
• Terrestrial Broadcasting Services
• Fixed Voice Services
• Broadband Services
• Gate-to-Gate Services
• Sale of SIM/Re-Charge cards
• Internet Service Provision
• Machine-to-Machine communication services
• IoT services and IoT network connectivity
Who can apply for a License?
1. A company incorporated under the Commercial Companies Law (Federal Law No. 8 of 1984) and pursuant to Article 28 of the Federal Law by Decree No. (3) of 2003, Regarding the Organization of the Telecommunications Sector and its amendments, or any legal person approved by the Board of the Authority.
2. A company whose shareholding complies with the resolution in which the particular Regulated Activity has been approved to be licensed.
How to apply for a License?
The application for a License can be done by filling out the License Application form available on the TRA’s website.
The applicant for an Individual License is required to submit the following information:
• Proof of fulfillment of eligibility criteria;
• Certified true copies of its memorandum and articles of association;
• Details of shareholding structure including information on any Telecommunication License held by any other shareholders, whether in the UAE or elsewhere;
• Details of management team including qualifications and experience in telecommunication field in the UAE and any other jurisdiction;
• Business plan, including without limitation:
• Type of networks to be operated and services to be provided;
• Roll out plan for network and services including network diagrams and relevant technical details;
• Whether spectrum or numbers is/are required for the service and if so, details of the requirements;
• Funding proposals;
• Benefits to the UAE economy of the proposals; and
• Any other information.
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