Middle East’s first virtual mobile operator launches in Oman

Friendi Mobile to target migrant workers with friends and family abroad

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By  George Bevir Published  April 28, 2009

The first mobile virtual network operator in the Middle East launched in Oman today.

Friendi Mobile, which struck a wholesale deal with Oman Mobile in November last year, will target the country’s migrant workforce, many of whom make international calls to friends and family abroad.

Mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) are expected to herald a new wave of competition among telecom operators in the region. The low-cost operators are unencumbered by the expense of running their own networks and are able to target niche segments of the market that traditional operators may have neglected.

Friendi Mobile Oman claims to offer the lowest price for a Sim card in Oman at OR2 ($5.19), along with the lowest price recharge card at 500 BZ.

The second MVNO to have a wholesale agreement with Oman Mobile, Renna, is expected to launch “within a few days” of Friendi, according to CEO Niklas Nielsen.

Both operators had hoped to launch during the first quarter of the year but were delayed from doing so until the regulator in Oman was satisfied that the correct procedures for the registration of customer’s details were in place.

Three more reseller licenses were issued by Oman’s telecom regulator, but so far none of the remaining licensees have been able to arrange wholesale deals with either of the country’s mobile operators, with second mobile operator Nawras appearing reluctant to enter into any deals with virtual operators.

Dubai headquartered Friendi has another MVNO licence in Jordan, and it plans to roll out more operations across the Middle East, North Africa and South Asia regions.

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