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Oman has shortlisted six regional and international companies bidding for a licence to establish a private firm to set up a second mobile telephone company in the state.
The Telecommunications Regulation Authority (TRA) has further timed down the shortlist to six from 10 companies. Government officials named the companies in the race as UK’s Cable and Wireless bidding jointly with Bahrain’s Batelco, MTC of Kuwait, Mobilcom of Austria, Qatar’s Qtel bidding with Denmark’s TDC, Investcom of Luxemburg and Celtel International.

The winner would be announced next month. The new service provider, who would operate alongside but in competition with state-run Oman Mobile Telecommunication Co in providing mobile phone services, would enjoy a three-year exclusivity period where no further mobile licences would be granted.

Officials say that there is a large market potential for companies hoping to provide telecoms services in the country. In terms of population, only 10% of individual people have a fixed line while mobile users amount to just 25%. In terms of households, only 52% of residences in the country have subscribed to the telephone service.

“From these figures, it shows that the market penetration in Oman is the lowest in the AGCC countries and much lower than international standards. It means that telephone providers wishing to operate in Oman have a very big business scope,” one official says.