DUBAI Nov 26 Oman has granted a fixed-line
telecommunications licence for the greater Muscat area to a
consortium of Awaser Oman Co and Hong Kong's PCCW International,
the regulator said on Monday, a decision that may squeeze
earnings at Oman's existing operators.
The licence is valid for the Governorate of Muscat - home to
about a quarter of Oman's estimated 2.8 million people - and
will enable the consortium to provide fixed-line data and voice
services for 25 years. PCCW International is a subsidiary of
The consortium will compete against Oman Telecommunications
Co (Omantel) and Nawras, a subsidiary of
Qatar Telecom (Qtel).
As the former monopoly, Omantel has an extensive fixed-line
network and this provided just over half of its revenue for the
nine months to Sept. 30, according to Reuters calculations.
Fixed-line accounted for 18.5 percent of Nawras's third-quarter
The Awaser-PCCW licence was awarded as fixed-line services
lag mobile, which had penetration of 180 percent - or 1.8 mobile
subscriptions per person - at the end of June, according to
Oman's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.
Many people hold multiple mobile SIM cards and switch
provider depending on which has the best offers for local and
international services, with Omantel also hosting two mobile
virtual network operators (MVNOs). MVNOs lease network capacity
and usually target a particular economic or ethnic group.
Fixed-line take-up has been sluggish in comparison -
penetration was only 10.7 percent at the end of June, up 0.6
percentage point since mid-2011, with just over a quarter of
households using the Internet on a fixed connection.
Yet fixed-line Internet services are lucrative, with a
monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) of 32.071 rials ($83.30)
in the second quarter, up 1.3 percent from the previous quarter.
Mobile broadband penetration was 51 percent at the end of June.
($1 = 0.3850 Omani rials)
(Additional reporting by Dinesh Nair; Editing by Andrew