17 Nov New age of connectivity
Oman’s telecommunications sector seen as linchpin in digitization of new industries
It has long been acknowledged that the telecommunications industry is essential for the social and cultural development of society. Expanding and upgrading this sector has become even more important in recent years as we enter the age of information and countries around the world have been implementing new strategies to ensure they stay ahead of the curve.
In Oman, the improvement of services, increased consumer choice and competitive pricing have helped to improve the overall performance of the telecommunications sector as a whole and fueled economic growth. The key player in this industry is Omantel, which was founded in 1996 and is the primary provider of internet services in the country.
The first telecommunication operator in Oman to launch a 5G network and a provider of fixed-line, mobile, internet and data services, the company is one of the key drivers of Oman’s digital transformation and connectivity efforts. It has significantly contributed to the development of advanced telecommunications infrastructure across the country, thus enabling better connectivity for individuals and businesses.
“By connecting people, we enrich and improve their everyday lives in many ways, including education and the way they conduct their work. Enabling the people of Oman is Omantel’s primary purpose. We understand the sophistication of the market and what long-term strategic technological investments are required,” states Talal Al Mamari, CEO of Omantel. “We have built an ecosystem of companies that supports both ourselves and the information and communication technology program of the country. We are focused on digital transformation at a national level that serves both public and private sectors. In fact, we are the leading organization in the creation of a digital foundation for the government of Oman.”
One of the leading operators in the region, Omantel is directly connected with around 120 cities around the world and has helped Oman to become a global data hub. Companies such as Amazon now host their servers with Omantel when covering the Middle East and North African region, while Equinix, the world’s leading digital infrastructure company, has two data centers in the country.
Omantel’s willingness to embrace the digital age has helped the company transform from a domestic player to one with a global foothold. It invested in a high-capacity submarine network that connects Oman with the rest of the world, launched a state-of-the-art 24/7 international network operations center for cloud and content-centric markets and rolled out international roaming with close to 700 operators in more than 210 countries.
“Technological advancement is a healthy dialogue that impacts all our lives,” says Al Mamari. “In the first industrial revolution, technology replaced specific jobs but humans advanced. There is no real risk in technological advancements such as artificial intelligence. Instead of taking jobs, it will create new businesses and more opportunities. It is critical we invest in skills and personal development. The entire telecom sector has been undergoing a significant transformation. We are diversifying and transforming Omantel from a telecommunication company into a technology company that provides sophisticated tools. We must leverage growth areas to ensure Omantel is sustainable in the years to come.”
In addition to providing telecommunications services, Omantel has also been involved in various other sectors of the economy. It has invested in technology and innovation and has supported the growth of technology startups to help foster a digital ecosystem in Oman.
The company wants to continue to play a significant role in enabling the nation’s digital transformation and while it continues to work with global technology companies, it also recognizes the talent that exists within the Sultanate. This led to the launch of the Generation Z training program which provides recent graduates with the opportunity to hone their skills through an intensive course that equips them with knowledge for the future.
“Omantel has a responsibility to invest in our talent as we owe our success to the dedicated, skilled and continuously developing workforce,” stresses Al Mamari. “We are experiencing exciting developments in technology that will improve our lives so we need to begin investing in our people and talent. On one side we are attracting global tech companies such as Equinix and Amazon, but on the other, we are creating an ecosystem within Oman by building up local companies in strategic technology segments such as data centers and cloud services. These entities have had the opportunity to work on many projects such as Oman Data Park, building up our IoT capabilities and smart cities alongside Tadoom. We also have a business process outsourcing company that is investing in blockchain technology.We are putting together an entire domestic ecosystem. We also have partnerships with domestic and international companies to address problems related to digital transformation in the public and private sectors.”