Oman's broadband strategy to bridge digital divide

Oman Wednesday 03/August/2016 21:16 PM
By: Times News Service
Oman's broadband strategy to bridge digital divide

Muscat: Council of Ministers’ approval of the National Broadband Strategy (NBS) marks an impressive leap in terms of keeping pace with modern developments in the field of broadband and meeting needs of the market and operators with relation to broadband services.
The Council of Ministers has mandated that the Ministry of Transport and Communications oversee strategy implementation, provide the Council of Ministers with periodic reports on the work progress and approve the recommendations proposed hereto.
This important move comes in response to the growing demand for high-speed broadband internet services during the last few years; especially internet-based applications and services that have become an integral part of economic life and a prerequisite for improving the standard of living of all beneficiaries.
The Sultanate’s NBS is designed in a manner to ensure that it is in line with other national strategies in a bid to maximise their prevalence and the socio-economic benefits generated by it.
By approving the NBS, the Sultanate’s government seeks to overcome several challenges, such as the low percentage of fixed broadband take-up with slower growth and high cost of broadband, compared with GDP per head benchmarked across the region and globally.
The strategy also seeks to overcome various constraints for expansion of mobile broadband coverage, including spectrum limitations, provision of backhaul connectivity, adding new towers, limited competition among broadband providers and the high cost of reaching rural areas, which represent 23 per cent of the total population. Broadband services enable citizens and expatriates to get high speed internet services at affordable rates, which will make the services provided by various organisations, as per international standards, more competitive and in turn will bridge the digital divide.
The strategy is based on three main pillars, namely reviewing the telecom regulatory framework, stimulating demand for broadband and enhancing the broadband infrastructure.
The Oman Broadband Company (OBC) endeavours to provide high quality infrastructure, with high capacity to cover half of the urban areas by 2020 and 95 per cent by 2030.
It also seeks to close the digital divide in the rural areas by providing a broadband network with basic capacity by 2020.
This is in line with the government vision of building a knowledge-based economy.
The company builds and operates the broadband network infrastructure in a way that meets international quality standards and becomes environment friendly. It seeks to avail the service for more beneficiaries through novel ways.
To this end, it has signed agreements with other infrastructure providers to streamline efforts and reduce the cost of construction, which in turn will ensure affordable costs for all service