The National Broadband Strategy aims to overcome the low levels of fixed broadband penetration within Oman, and the challenges presented with the rapid expansion of mobile broadband networks in an often geographically challenging landscape. This includes the requirement to build new towers and the scarcity of available spectrum, in addition to the high cost of broadband in relation to the GDP when compared with the rest of the Middle East and the world. Moreover, the competition between the operators in Oman is limited and the cost of expanding broadband services to rural areas is very high.
The stated goals of the National Broadband Strategy aim to achieve numerous national, social and economic benefits. The main objectives of National Broadband Strategy are:
- Providing access for every citizen and resident in Oman to high speed broadband at affordable prices
- Providing access to all enterprises in Oman to world-class broadband services to enable companies to effectively compete at the international level
- Providing rural communities with access to broadband services to bridge the digital gap
In order to achieve these objectives, the Strategy was built on three main pillars
First: Review of the telecom regulatory framework
This component is subject to the supervision of the Ministry of Transport & Communications and the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority. It aims to review policies and regulatory procedures associated to the provision of broadband services. This includes a range of initiatives, such as:
- Reform licensing arrangements to adjust to new market structure, facilitate the market entry, and increase competition
- Review restrictions on the use of Voice over Internet Protocol
- Regulate introduction and provision of wholesale fixed broadband services
- Regulate the fibre deployment and other services in infrastructure projects
- Regulate the specifications for wiring provision in new buildings to support broadband
Second: Stimulating the demand for broadband
This component is subject to the cooperation of key institutions, the Information Technology Authority, and relevant government utilities. It aims to create programs and initiatives to increase the demand for broadband through integration with other sectors’ plans under the umbrella of the National Vision 2040, such as the Oman Digital Society, E-Government strategy and other initiatives.
Third: Enhancing the Broadband Infrastructure
This component is within the competence of Oman broadband company and it aims to upgrade and expand current infrastructure networks, enhance the technology used, and increase the integration among them; to be leased to the current service providers (Omantel / Ooredoo) at a competitive price and high quality. The Council of Ministers, in early 2013, approved the establishment of the Oman Broadband Company to achieve the desired goals of the third pillar.