Boston, MA -- (SBWIRE) -- 07/24/2012 -- During this quarter's update to BMI's Oman Telecommunications report, we have updated our five-year growth forecast for the mobile, fixed-line and internet sectors based latest regulatory and operator data for YE11. It also includes updates to our mobile ARPU forecast as well as analysis of recent regulatory and industry development expected to affect the telecoms market.
According to market data published by Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) of Oman and the country's two biggest telecoms operators, BMI calculates there were 4.787mn mobile subscribers in Oman at the end of December 2011. This was a market penetration rate of 168.2%, slightly up from 165.5% at the end of December 2010. The mobile market in Oman experienced mixed fortunes in 2011, with net losses during the first three months of the year followed by a steady by muted growth in the last nine months. As a result, the market grew by just 3.9%, or net additions of around 180,000 subscribers in 2011, compared to growth of 16.2%, or net additions of 641,000 subscribers, in 2010. BMI attributes the market's relatively weak performance in 2011 to the effects of inactive SIM discounting and market saturation, factors we expect to rein in growth during our forecast period, through to 2016. We therefore envisage slower growth over the next five years, with the mobile subscriber base forecast to reach 5.297mn, equivalent to a penetration rate of 170.4%, by 2016.
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One of the biggest changes to our forecast this quarter relates to the 3G segment where the regulator now publishes actual data for active 3G subscriptions in addition to estimates for the number of 3G-enabled handsets in the country. According to the regulator, there were 1.076mn 3G subscriptions in Oman at the end of December 2011, comprising 520,793 standard subscriptions via handsets and 555,461 dedicated data subscriptions via modems and data cards. This figure was equivalent to just 50.3% of the estimated 2.140mn 3G handsets in the country, resulting in a significant downgrade to our 3G historical data and forecast. Our new historical data are based on the proportion of active subscriptions to 3G handsets in the market, while our new forecasts, which also incorporate other industry-specific and macroeconomic factors expected to affect the 3G market, envisage the number of 3G subscriptions to reach 1.7mn by 2016. This would be equivalent to 32.1% of the total mobile subscriber base, up from 22.5% in 2011.
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