“We have already appointed consultants to prepare terms and conditions for the auction and soon the process will start,” says Naashiah al-Kharusi, member of the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority.

The licence will be awarded to the highest bidder, in contrast to the auction for the second fixed-line licence in Qatar which will be given to the company with the best technical bid.

The Omani regulator has already begun the process of holding an auction for a third mobile phone operator in the sultanate. Companies had until 1 April to register their interest in the mobile phone licence.

The regulator declined to name the companies that want to take part in the mobile phone auction. The two incumbent operators are Oman Mobile, a subsidiary of Omantel, and Nawras, which is controlled by the Qatari operator Qtel.