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Oman invites bids for second fixed-line operator

12 августа 2008

Middle East country looking for company to invest at least $300 million to boost fixed-line, broadband penetration.

Oman's Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) on Monday invited bids for the country's second nationwide fixed-line licence.

Under the terms of the licence, the successful bidder will also be awarded spectrum to enable it to provide wireless broadband access.

The TRA said in a statement that the contract for building and operating fixed-line services will be renewable after 25 years, while the spectrum rights will be valid for 15 years, with the option to renew them for a further 10.

According to a report by Reuters, a source at
Oman's Economy Ministry said the government is looking for a company that is able to invest at least $300 million within five years from the licence being awarded.

"The successful bidder will have to pay 7% of gross revenues to the government as royalty... [and] pay an upfront fee of 500,000 rials (£677,000) on selection," said Naashiah al-Kharusi, a regulatory official, in the report.

He commented that the bidder that can invest the most money in the backbone infrastructure will have a "competitive edge over the rest" in the selection procedure.

The TRA said that
Oman has a population of around 2.75 million, with fixed-line phone penetration of just 10%, and Internet and broadband penetration of only 3%.

"This represents an attractive opportunity for an experienced telecommunications operator given the current penetration levels in the region," said the regulator.

Prospective operators have until August 25 to submit bids.

"The TRA reserves the right to pre-qualify a maximum of 10 bidders," added the regulator.

The introduction of a second fixed-line provider in Oman will end the monopoly of the incumbent operator Omantel, which already had its grip on the country's mobile sector loosened in 2005, when rival operator Nawras launched.

Oman is also currently soliciting bids for a 25% stake in Omantel, which it hopes will drive growth at the operator abroad as well as in its home market.

So far Etisalat and Saudi Telecom (STC) have both stated their interest in acquiring the stake, while at the end of July sources said the government had received a robust number of expressions of interest.

What's more, Analysys Mason analyst Daniel Jones recently said that Kuwaiti operator
Zain, South Africa's MTN, and mobile giant Vodafone could also all be in the running.

Источник: Total Telecom

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