Oman to license third operator

18 February 2016 | Jason McGee-Abe

Omantel and Ooredoo are set to face competition as Oman’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has been instructed to start the licensing process for a new operator.

The Omani Ministry of Transport and Communications released its MOTC plan 2016 on February 14 2016, which detailed its communication investment plans.

Under the policies and strategic planning section it stated that it is “initiating the procedures of granting the third telecom services operator license”.

Minister of Transport and Communications, Ahmed Al-Futaisi, broke the news on Twitter the day before stating that the Omani telecoms regulator had been instructed to initiate the process.

The department is well underway with the second phase of its general policy framework of communications sector (2012–2017), which aims to liberate the telecoms market and increase its competitiveness.

The move will increase pressure on Omantel and Ooredoo. Omantel received a licence for basic fixed and mobile voice and data services in 2004, whilst Ooredoo was granted a licence for mobile services in 2005. A licence for fixed services for voice and data was issued to Telco Nawras, a subsidiary of Ooredoo, in 2009, initiating the first fixed-line competition in the country.

According to TRA figures, Omantel has a 45% market share compared to Ooredoo’s 41%. The discrepancy is accounted for by virtual players and resellers.

There were 6.56 million mobile subscriptions in Oman at the end of the Q3 2015 and approximately 423,000 fixed line subscribers in the country, according to the regulator.