Muscat: Oman’s Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA) has decided to finish all the procedures for a third telecom provider in the country to enhance the competition in the telecommunications sector, the telecom regulator said in a statement on Monday. The TRA didn’t give further details or the name of the new telecom provider.
The regulator issued a decision on Sunday urging telecom companies to speed up network, quality enhancement and bring down prices of telecom services. TRA also urged the telecom firms to conduct a survey of the various areas in the country to find out the extent of coverage and follow up on the performance of telecom companies.
The body directed telecom firms to provide within two weeks from the date of the decision, a plan for next three years.
Meanwhile, the two existing telecom operators — Omantel and Ooredoo — are under intense pressure by a boycott launched on social media by clients in protest of high prices and low quality services. The two-hour boycott, which resulted in a shutdown of all telecom services, started on October 10 and it will run between 4pm and 6pm every day.
Mobile phone users were requested to switch off their phones or put them on flight mode. The hashtag launched by the campaigners, titled “Boycott of Omantel and Ooredoo”, has been the top trending hashtag in the country on Twitter for more than a week.
State-owned Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) is the primary service provider in the country, and Ooredoo, majority owned by Qatar Ooredoo, has fewer subscribers. Many mobile phone users complain about poor internet package offers provided by the telecom companies, high call rates and blocking of internet calling services. Thousands of users have also unfollowed Twitter accounts of the two companies to put more pressure on them to reduce high prices and improve services.
Campaigners also used other social media platforms like Facebook and WhatsApp, which have gone abuzz with boycott messages and videos, calling on everyone to boycott the telecom firms.
Omantel’s net profit for the first six months of 2016 was 66.8 million riyals, 9 per cent higher than the 61.3 million riyals it made in the corresponding period last year, while Ooredoo Oman’s net profit increased to 24.9 million riyals in the first six months, compared to 22.2 million riyals during the same period last year.