Following the passage in March of new legislation governing the liberalisation of domestic telecoms services in the sultanate the government had intended to sell a 40 per cent stake in Omantel to a strategic investor while opening up the market for cellular, internet and private leased-line services this year. Merrill Lynchis advising the government on its privatisation programme (MEED 5:4:02).

Omantel has just over 200,000 fixed-line subscribers from a total population of about 2.6 million and some 322,994 pre-paid and post-paid customers for its GSM services. The company is planning to boost its mobile business further with the introduction of advanced GPRS (general packet radio services) and 3G (third-generation) networks (Oman, MEED Special Report, 26:4:02, page 32).