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TRA modernises Oman's telecoms

Article - November 15, 2012
Working with the government, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority's top priorities lie in broadband penetration and market competition
In recent years in the Sultanate of Oman, the telecommunications industry has experienced rapid and exciting growth. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has played a key role in facilitating the building of a modern infrastructure for the sector, educating citizens in Internet literacy, and liberalising the market to further promote competition and encourage investments.

The TRA, which enforces regulation for the Omani telecommunication operators and implements the policies set up by the government, has emphasised development and growth of broadband Internet throughout the nation as a top priority. The TRA is supporting the Ministry of Transport and Communications in the development of the National Broadband Strategy in an effort to extent connectivity to every business and home even into rural areas. This follows a nationwide government modernisation effort called the e-Oman project, which aims to provide electronic services to citizens and businesses as well as the government entities. 

“The major development that we are looking at in the next five to eight years is the broadband side of telecoms,” said Omani Minister of Transport and Communications, Dr Ahmed Mohammed Al Futaisi. “We would like to have a broadband network in every house in Oman.”

Another important role of the TRA is to promote effective competition in the mobile services market. At the request of the Omani government, the TRA will be analysing the market to determine the viability of adding a third operator to compete with the country’s established two telecommunication firms, Omantel and Nawras.

“The market is still not saturated,” opined Dr Al Futaisi, adding that the two current operators are implementing 4G technology during this year. “There is strong demand from the public to introduce a third operator and increase competition, improve services and reduce prices.” 

Expanding the cellular phone market and further developing the telecommunications sector in general is part of Oman’s plan to shift its economy away from relying primarily on the hydrocarbon industry.

“One of the key elements of Vision 2020 of Oman is to diversify the economy into non-oil sectors and the e-Oman plan has identified the development of a knowledge-based society to play a significant role in the diversification process,” said Dr Hamed Salim Al Rawahi, the TRA’s chief executive. “Telecoms have been a significant enabler and stimulant for the wheels of the economy.”