Oman has a modern telecom system consisting of open-wire, microwave, and radiotelephone communication stations, limited coaxial cable, and a domestic satellite system with 8 earth stations. Fixed-line and mobile-cellular subscribership are both increasing with fixed-line phone service gradually being introduced to remote villages using wireless local loop systems.
The Internet penetration rate was 71% by mid-2016. Oman Broadband Company (OBC) is currently rolling our fibre-networks in and around Muscat. By the end of 2016 Ooredoo Oman expected to have over 100,000 households with access to its FttH network. Microwave backhauling is also being trialled in Oman.
The telecoms sector in Oman has potential for growth. New competitors are being allowed to enter the market, a move that is expected to drive larger and deeper changes in the industry. Although both fixed-line and mobile telecoms penetration levels are low, mobile subscriber growth has increased rapidly since a second mobile operator entered the market. Strong growth rates have also been recorded in the broadband market as the incumbent operator gets ready to face increasing competition. The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) is commited to develop the telecom sector in the Sultanate of Oman by regulating the telecom services.
Oman is heavily dependent on its dwindling oil resources, which generate 84% of government revenue. The state has limited foreign assets and is issuing debt to cover its deficit.
Oman is using enhanced oil recovery techniques to boost production and has actively pursued a development plan that focuses on diversification, industrialization, and privatization, with the objective of reducing the oil sector’s contribution to GDP from 46% at present to 9% by 2020. Tourism and gas-based industries are key components of the government’s diversification strategy.
Muscat also is focused on creating more jobs to employ the rising number of Omanis entering the workforce.
Increases in social welfare benefits, however, particularly since the Arab Spring, dating to 2011, have challenged the government’s ability to effectively balance its budget, as oil prices decline. Omani officials intend to reduce social entitlements to cut the deficit but have faced stiff public opposition to spending cuts, hindering their implementation.
Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) is the first telecommunications company in Oman and is the primary provider of Internet services in the country. The government of Oman owns a 51% share of the company. Omantel has established itself as a major international hub, with currently 10 submarine cables landing in Oman. In 2015 it announced a project that will implement FTTH technology in the country.