Muscat: All mobile phone numbers remain the property of Oman government, therefore, users or customers are forbidden to resell them, Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has said.
"We wish to clarify that residents and citizens of Oman may own a telephone number but they are not authorised to sell them," a statement from the TRA said.
The TRA clarified that telephone numbers are public resources.
"It is the intention of TRA to educate subscribers that the payment of fees in acquiring these numbers does not bring about the transfer of ownership to the party or the person who has been allocated the number. The TRA reserves the right to withdraw any number allocated to the user if required in public interest," it said.
According to a TRA official, engaged in the trading of public telecommunication numbers or relinquishing their use is considered a legal violation that is punishable as per the Telecommunication Regulatory Act.
He also said that people selling their numbers will be fined or can be sent to jail. According to the law, trading or relinquishing of special numbers is prohibited.
"As an exception, these numbers may be relinquished after a fee payment of OMR20 to the authority in accordance with the following cases and conditions — between spouses or first degree relatives on condition that the marriage or the relation is proved, these numbers can be relinquished to new employees by companies after the services of one of their employees is terminated," the official said.
When contacted, an official of Nawras refused to comment but voiced support for the TRA's rules and regulations and emphasised that laws are made for the benefit of consumers.
Another mobile operator stated on its website, "All telephone numbers are a national resource controlled by the TRA. Numbers may, in the future, be changed, blocked or recalled and we must comply with the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority's and other official agencies requirements. If requested, you may keep the same number when changing to another service provider."
Despite this advisory by TRA, mobile phone numbers are still being offered for sale on various websites and in Ruwi High Street, with some numbers referred to as "VIP numbers" for hundreds of rials.
"We can get you some numbers which are very special and very easy to remember, but you have to pay a price for them," said an agent in Ruwi High Street.