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TRA Announces the National Emergency Plan for Telecom Sector

In compliance with the vision and strategy of the government, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) announced the “National Emergency Plan for the Telecoms Sector.” The plan was presented to the media and the public at a press conference held on 19th June 2011 at the TRA main office in Abu Dhabi.

Speaking on the launch of the plan, H.E. Muhammad Nasser Al Ghanim, TRA Director General said: “The National Emergency Plan for the Telecommunications Sector (NEP-T) is intended to provide the foundation for an effective and coordinated emergency response by the UAE Telecoms Sector. It has been designed to address emergency issues that impact (or could impact) the telecom’s infrastructure.”

“The National Emergency Plan for the Telecoms Sector (NEP-T) is intended to fit within the broader framework of the National Crisis and Emergency Management Authority (NCEMA) emergency and resilience planning at the national level within the UAE, but also specifically within the preparations already made by the Telecoms Sector. The TRA, in coordination with NCEMA, will lead and manage the responses,” he added.

The plan identifies the threats which might affect the telecom sector such as: loss of mains electricity, permanent or long-term absence of staff, loss of mains water and sewerage, loss of availability of fuel or oil, disruption to land, sea or air transport, infrastructure failure, telecom system failure, software failure, electronic interference, cyber threats and embargo.

The National Emergency Plan for Telecom Sector also sets the UAE Telecoms Sector’s priorities in an emergency, which are geared towards the provision of telecoms services to priority user groups, and those commercial entities that have contracts in place with the licensees to ensure a minimum level of service is maintained. It sets the requirements to protect Priority Telecoms Services for the Priority User Groups as defined by the TRA.

Different priority user groups have different requirements for priority telecoms services (for example, individual government VIPs require mobile services as a priority, whereas financial centers require internet services as a priority). Therefore, the plan does not impose specific technical requirements, which are the responsibility of the licensee to propose, but the licensees are required to fulfill the group of obligations set by the plan.

The plan also indicates that in the event of a national emergency, both the UAE government and the Telecommunications Sector will have crucial roles in managing the incident. Reaching a successful outcome will depend on their respective and joint ability to coordinate a response at various levels (strategic through to tactical). The Telecommunications Sector, under the oversight and coordination of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), is responsible for the operational management of the telecommunications resources necessary for ensuring that any emergency situation is managed and recovered effectively and as quickly as possible.

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