Musana: The interest of the expatriate customer base will be at the fore even as former monopoly Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) gears up to provide Long Term Evolution (LTE) 4G technology for consumers in the country.
Omantel chief executive officer Dr Amer Al Rawas said at the annual Media Day held at the Millennium Resort Hotel 122 km north of Muscat that the company was already planning to roll out new generation LTE-4G technology that will enable the delivery of wireless broadband at superior speeds.
"4G will be introduced soon," he announced without giving any time frame for the implementation of the services.
However, he said that a tender was already floated to select a LTE-4G-technology provider.
Dr Al Rawas pointed out that when the company moves to LTE-4G, 2G will be used for telephone and 3G for voice and data.
"4G at present will be used for data only but later for voice as well," he said, adding that the company was planning to invest in the new technology.
"Limited allocation of spectrum was one reason for some dissatisfaction in the mobile internet broadband speeds," he said in the wake of several postings on the social media in Oman on the issue. "This issue, along with the USO issue, falls within the ambit of the TRA."
He explained that the delays in the implementation of 3.5G mobile technology were also due to inadequate allocation of spectrum.
"We have been granted 2.1 megahertz which is high frequency but with shorter range than low frequency spectrum. We are working with the TRA to obtain lower frequencies, and this is related to 3G, and in some areas to get, high frequency spectrum does not help at all because of distances between homes," he said.
Talking about investments, he said that Omantel was committed to spending around 20 per cent of its revenues for network expansion every year. "Last year we invested 84 million Omani riyals and in 2012 our expenditures would be on similar lines," he added.
In preliminary financial results released last week, the former monopoly operator posted an 8.6 per cent increase in revenues during 2011, which climbed to 453 million riyals. The company posted net earnings of 113 million riyals.
Talking about allegations of Omantel's high tariffs, Dr Al Rawas said the company had slashed mobile rates by 40 per cent in 2005, a year before rival Nawras commenced operations.
"Prices have since dropped a further 39 per cent, while international call rates have slumped 30 per cent during this period," he said.
In reply to a question on VOIP, he said: " Most of our investments are designed to enable communications via Internet Protocol."
He also revealed that the TRA had invited Skype to consider Oman, but they refused citing the small size of the market.