Bidding approaches on second GSM licence

20 November 2003
The government is edging closer to issuing a second licence for GSM services in the sultanate. According to senior sources within the Oman Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (OTRA), prospective operators could receive solicitations of interest for the licence as early as December. The OTRA expects to have a second mobile operator in place by June 2004 at the latest (MEED 4:8:03).

The new operator will be required to install a new network for GSM services that will run alongside the existing system operated by Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel). The company, which is wholly owned by the government and had been earmarked for partial privatisation, has installed more than 230,000 fixed lines and has some 320,000 pre-paid and post-paid customers for its GSM services.

An award is imminent for the consultancy contract to help prepare Omantel for the liberalisation of the sector. Ten consultants bid in June for the enterprise transformation contract.

Omantel is working to build up its GSM network. In early November, it awarded Germany's Siemens a RO 15 million ($40 million) contract to expand GSM services into rural and isolated areas of the sultanate. The company will supply and install base stations as well as fit GSM technology along the main highways linking Muscat, Nizwa, Beidbeid and Sur.

The contract is the second recent award by Omantel. France's Alcatelin June signed a contract to install broadband access to Omantel's networks in the Al-Ghubra and Al-Khadra regions (MEED 6:6:03).

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