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Oman to offer new telecom licenses

TRA invites interested companies to submit proposals for mobile and fixed-line operations by 1st April

In a move that further underlines Oman's liberalisation of its telecoms sector, telcos have been invited to submit proposals for a second fixed-line telecom license and a third mobile phone licence.

The Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) said companies have until 1st April to make their interest known.

"The TRA invites telecom companies to submit proposals to set up mobile and fixed-line telephone services in Oman that will lead to a licence as operators," the regulator said in a statement.

"The fixed-line licence will end the monopoly of Omantel, which last month bought a controlling stake in Pakistan's Worldcall Telecom as it expands abroad to face growing competition at home," it added.

The move will raise the competition stakes for Oman Telecommunications (Omantel), which has lost market share to Nawras, the Qatar Telecommunications majority-owned operator that started operating in the Sultanate in March 2005. Nawras has benefited from the implementation of mobile number portability (MNP), introduced in August 2006.

The sale is also in line with many other countries in the region, which are also opening up their telecoms sectors. Saudi Arabia's third mobile operator is to launch operations this year, while Qatar is also planning to sell its second fixed-line licence in 2008, after a group led by Vodafone secured the country's second mobile phone licence in December.

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