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Oman awards third licence to Sama Telecom

Sama Telecom granted full licence as Sultan Qaboos promises more jobs.

Sama has become the third full-fledged telecom operator in Oman after Omantel and Nawras.
Sama has become the third full-fledged telecom operator in Oman after Omantel and Nawras.

Sama Telecommunications, an MVNO in Oman, has been awarded a full telecom licence for the country.

Oman's ruler, Sultan Qaboos bin Said, awarded the licence to Sama Telecom via a decree, according to a report from Reuters.

The decree stated that Sama Telecom had been issued with a 15-year "first-grade licence" to offer "general international telecommunication services".

According to Oman's TRA, a first-grade licence gives the holder the right to establish a telecom network and international telecom infrastructure including gateways.

The development will make Sama Telecom the country's third full-fledged operator after incumbent Omantel, and Oman's second telco, Nawras, which launched services in 2006.

Analysts warned that the Omani market may be too small and too highly-penetrated to absorb a third operator. Jacobo Garcia Palencia, a partner at Delta Partners, a Dubai-based consultant and investment firm,  said that there is "reduced space" for a third operator in Oman.

"It's a small market with medium to high penetration and already has existing MVNOs in both networks. The only positive factors are a benign competitive environment with relatively low pressure on prices and high concentration of population in two cities, but it will still be difficult to build a business case," he said.

Oman's existing operators appear to have been unaware that a third licence would be awarded. Nawras' company secretary, Philippe Vogeleer, said: "Nawras is waiting to see publication of full details of the licence granted to Sama Telecom and the company's own announcement, before being in a position to comment."

The decree coincided with a promise by Qaboos bin Said to create more jobs in response to growing protests in the country. Protests in Oman yesterday entered their third day, with hundreds of people gathering in the industrial city of Sohar.

At least one person is reported to have died after being hit by a rubber bullet during the protests.