Can you tell us about Omantel’s 5G journey so far? Has 5G delivered on your expectations?
Omantel embarked on the 5G journey early on. We were among the first few operators globally who recognized the capabilities of this new technology and carved out a roadmap suitable for our strategic goals. We realized that 5G has a potential to bridge the gaps that existed in our markets and planned for it. Fixed Wireless Access (FWA) was our first service over 5G which was launched in 2019. Since then we have developed more than 100,000 FWA connections over 5G. Later in 2020, we launched 5G mobility services and that also saw a major uptake. Currently, we are number one operator in GCC in terms of 5G traffic ratio which has already surpassed 50% and we can say 5G has become a dominant technology for Omantel within 3 years of operation which is an achievement and testament of our belief and foresight.
How do you see the contribution of 5G to business success? And how does that impacted Omantel’s top and bottom line?
If you take a closer look, 5G is a very versatile technology which is capable of creating newer use cases for many practical scenarios. However, it is one thing to have a capability and another on how to use it to your advantage. At Omantel, from early on our effort has been to utilize 5G’s diverse capabilities to the scenarios that are applicable to our market. 5G FWA was one such use case which bridged the gap between demand of high speed broadband from new areas and supply constraints from traditional technologies such as DSL or fiber. Today, majority of our 5G traffic is generated from home FWA connections. Especially during covid-19 pandemic 5G helped us in catering to the exceptionally high demand for high speed connections in a way that wouldn’t have been possible otherwise. In hindsight, an early start with 5G helped us navigate the covid pandemic and break the barriers.
We saw Omantel launching cloud gaming earlier this year, what are some of the new services that consumers in Oman can expect from you?
At Omantel, we are always on the look out for innovations, whether it is for end users or within our network operations. As you rightly pointed out, cloud gaming was one of the innovative service we started offering to our customers earlier this year, we are aware of diverse capabilities of 5G and its support to bring innovative services that are possible over high speed, low latency and highly reliable 5G connections and are working with multiple partners to bring new services to the users in Oman.
For advanced services, a consistent high level of experience is a must. How is Omantel planning to ensure high level of experience to its subscribers? And can you share us Omantel next steps for 5G network construction?
Yes, you are right, a consistent high level of experience is a must for innovative services to thrive and grow. We are taking many actions to improve customer experience, for example one of the benchmark we have set for ourselves is to provide ubiquitous 5G coverage with 100Mbps speed to every user. We will be doing that by using C-Band as a primary band for 5G while extending the coverage with use of 2.1G and provide enhanced capacity with the use of 2.3 & 2.6G bands. We are also working towards launching 5G SA network soon which will make low latency and ultra-reliability scenarios possible in near future.
The pandemic has been going on for a long time. As a great telecom operator, can you share how Omantel copes with the social challenges posed by the pandemic?
As you know, Covid pandemic shook the world without any warning signs. It changed telecom services consumption habits of a typical users overnight. All of a sudden, our homes didn’t remain just homes, it became our offices, our schools and even our playgrounds. All of it put a massive strain on telecom networks. Our networks required re-planning to support these changed behaviors. As I mentioned above, 5G helped us navigate these challenges in a great way. We could get students and professional online with reliable 5G connections within hours. Going forward, we are focusing our efforts to migrate our legacy copper and 4G connections which are not capable of supporting high bandwidth connections to 5G in order to ensure that we are able to support our customers even in exceptional circumstances.
DR. ALI AL HASHMI
General Manager Networks, Omantel