Oman’s success in introducing cellular competition has set the stage for further market liberalisation.
After the successful partial privatisation of Omantel, and the successful entrance of a second cellular operator, Oman’s telecom market is ripe for further liberalisation in the coming two years.
The Arab Advisors Group projects Oman’s total cellular revenues to grow to reach around US$582mn in 2009, growing at a CAGR of 6.5% over the 2005-09 period.
The Omani Cellular market was reinvigorated with the entrance of the second cellular operator, Nawras Telecom. By end of the third quarter of 2005, Nawras’s total subscribers stood at 181,422, translating into a market share of 14.8%.
By the end of the first nine months of 2005, the Omani cellular market was already enjoying the fruits of a healthy competition. The whole market has grown by a healthy 22.8%, jumping over the 1mn benchmark. This growth was the reflection of considerable additions from both operators.
A new report, “Oman Communications Projections Report 2005 “was released to the Arab Advisors Group’s Telecoms Strategic Research Service subscribers on November 24, 2005.
“In Oman the ministry of communications had assumed all regulatory and licensing responsibilities in the telecommunications sector until 2002 when the telecommunications law was drafted and approved by Sultan Qaboos. This law included provisions for an independent telecom regulatory body, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). It is a public body that is administratively and financially independent. The TRA regulates the establishment, operation and maintenance of telecommunication services. Its mandate also includes promoting the interest of telecommunication service providers and beneficiaries,” says Andrawes Snobar, Arab Advisors senior research analyst in the report. “Moreover, the government has announced its intention to liberalise the telecommunications market in Oman by opening up the possibility for licenses to be issued to interested operators.”
Fixed line penetration in Oman is significantly lower than in other GCC countries. Oman’s PSTN penetration stood at 9.5% by end of 2004.
In an attempt to improve fixed line penetration Omantel has launched a “free incoming calls “prepaid fixed line service (Sahl), and began using wireless fixed local loop in rural areas. Those attempts, together with the upcoming competition in fixed line services expected in 2007, will result in a growing fixed line subscriber base.
Arab Advisors Group projects PSTN subscribers to grow at a CAGR of 8.8% between 2005 and 2009, to reach more than 365,000 subscribers by end of 2009. This, the Arab Advisors Group believes, bodes very well for the plans to liberalise the fixed services market in Oman.