New Fixed Networks market report from Business Monitor International: "Oman Telecommunications Report Q1 2014"
Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 12/31/2013 -- Oman's telecoms markets are developing rapidly with demand for data and value added services the fastest area of growth. Wireless data services have seen the strongest growth in terms of both dedicated and voice and data subscriptions. Demand for smartphones has boosted subscription growth, while improved international connectivity is at the same time driving down the cost of services and deepening the market. Meanwhile, total subscriptions are also continuing to increase, with opportunities existing due to continued population growth. However, saturation will ultimately be reached over the medium term, and we therefore expect operators to shift their strategy towards upselling higher value services to existing customers to sustain revenue growth.
- Mobile subscriptions increased by 8.6% year-on-year (y-o-y) to 5.422mn in Q213, equal to penetration of 149.3%.
- Operators are under pressure from IP substitution of SMS services in favour of Whatsapp, Viber and other services. SMS volumes were down 46.7% y-o-y to 566mn in Q213.
- Wireless data subscriptions have continued to expand rapidly, increasing 46.8% y-o-y to 2.075mn at the end of June 2013.
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Key Trends And Developments
Oman is a relatively liberalised market by regional standards, but it could move even further ahead of its peers with the privatisation of some its stake in incumbent operator Omantel. On September 17 2013, Oman's government announced plans to sell a 19% stake in Omantel, with Bank Muscat advising the sale. The stake is valued at around OMR221mn (US$575mn) based on the company's current market value. The Omani government currently owns a 70% stake in Omantel and would retain a 51% stake in the operator after this round of privatisation. The sale should introduce investment and expertise into the market, which would be particularly beneficial for the development of the wireline segment.
Meanwhile, in the mobile market, operators are facing up to the downside of wireless data service growth, particularly through the proliferation of smartphones. Smartphone users are shifting to IP alternatives to SMS such as WhatsApp, Viber and Facebook Messenger - which will squeeze operator revenues and margins by decreasing volumes of SMS. The latest regulatory data show that SMS volumes have fallen precipitously in Oman, down 46.7% y-o-y to Q213. Based on the experience of operators in developed markets, there is little prospect of a reversal of this trend, barring the intervention of the regulator to ban IP substitutes to protect government-owned operators as was the case in neighbouring Saudi Arabia.
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