Oman in focus

Sherry Zameer, SVP, mobile services & IoT, CIS, Middle East and Africa at Thales discusses Oman’s telecoms roadmap and competition in the marketplace
“The most important part of the Vision 2040 programme is to realise that all stakeholders will need to co-exist in the new ecosystem.” Sherry Zameer, SVP, mobile services & IoT, CIS, Middle East and Africa at Thales
Photo by Martin Adams on Unsplash
“The most important part of the Vision 2040 programme is to realise that all stakeholders will need to co-exist in the new ecosystem.” Sherry Zameer, SVP, mobile services & IoT, CIS, Middle East and Africa at Thales

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How far is Oman along the path to its goal of having all homes and businesses connected to broadband by 2040? What steps are being taken reach these goals?

The National Vision 2040 program aims to increase the low level of fixed broadband penetration in the country with a rapid expansion of mobile broadband network, ironing out challenges in terrain, spectrum and technology. Experts have already begun mapping out the blueprint for broadband expansion in Oman as part of the Vision 2040. The strategy touches on aspects such as regulation and licensing, investment in future proof technology and creating ecosystems of stakeholders. We’ll be able to see the changes in next phase of the programme from 2021-2025.

How are Oman telecoms operators planning to build out their revenue streams in an increasingly competitive market?

The National Vision 2040 programme lays out the future plans for a new digital economy for Oman and telecom operators are working to provide affordable and efficient connectivity for the country’s citizens and visitors. This will involve new revenue streams from IoT, cloud services, eGovernment services, mobile financial services and smart city projects, reducing the load on public infrastructure. These will also go a long way in creating partnerships in media and entertainment to deliver a ubiquitous one-stop-shop user experience.

How are the soon-to-be-three operators differentiating themselves? Is each developing USPs to retain market share? 

The most important part of the Vision 2040 programme is to realise that all stakeholders will need to co-exist in the new ecosystem. With that in mind, Oman is attracting global brands that bring with them best-of-breed innovation and technology. Traditional business models of voice and data do not deliver the expectations in terms of revenue growth, and this is why the mobile operators in Oman are upgrading their technological offers. This evolutionary mindset is vital for companies to remain relevant and benefit from new digital economies of the future. The biggest differentiator therefore, will be technology, which is why we are seeing mobile operators accelerate the deployment of 5G services in the country.

Is 5G likely to be implemented once the third player has joined the Oman telecoms pack? What other changes are we likely to see?

The deployment of 5G services is driven by a longer-term vision rather than competitive forces in the market. Oman is going through a digital revolution and to be a stakeholder in this future, mobile operators in Oman are investing in the rollout of 5G networks. In this process, they are transforming the lives of enterprises and citizens in the way that they live, work and play. Smartphone manufacturers are also starting to launch 5G variants of their flagship devices and we can expect to see the increase in the adoption of 5G towards the end of 2019 and in 2020. The rollout of 5G also creates a platform for new services in VR/AR and, Smart Cities which transforms industries like utilities, agriculture and transport, enabling new revenue streams for stakeholders. This is an exciting time. Oman has a high population of young skilled engineers who can embrace these changes and start participating in these new economies powered by fast, low latency 5G network.

What steps are currently being taken by network operators to build out NFV and SDN? When will we see implementation?

As part of the 5G rollout programme, mobile operators today are evolving their current architecture and leveraging on state-of-the-art cloud methodologies towards an NFV and SDN complaint architecture. Tier 1 mobile operators started implementation in the region last year as part of a longer-term strategy. The services that IoT, Smart Cities and future 5G services like V2X offer, operators are able to leverage on the performance, agility, efficiency and elasticity that a NFV and SDN architecture promises to deliver. 

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