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No takers for pay phones, Internet dial-up services

Muscat - 

Oman's public pay phones have generated an average of 77bz per unit in the third quarter of 2012, as per the latest Telecom Market Indicators Report released by the Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRA) for the period of July-September. The number of public phones has remained static at 6,801 for last eight quarters.

With the rising popularity and penetration of broadband, there have been few takers for Internet dial-up services too, the popularity of which has come down by 12.3 per cent in Q3 with only 6,712 subscribers left.

Similarly, the popularity of BlackBerry services has also waned, with the number of users dropping by seven per cent as compared to second quarter figures. In contrast, the active mobile broadband penetration rate per 100 residents increased from 51 per cent to 57.4 per cent.

TRA's report indicates a growth of 3.2 per cent in the number of mobile subscribers, leading to a market penetration of 185.5 per cent. While Oman Mobile had a market share of 48.6 per cent, Nawras covered 40.6 per cent. Resellers achieved a 10.8 per cent market share during the reported quarter, registering a 31 per cent decline in the number of subscribers.

On the other hand, mobile number portability has been on an upswing. The service, which allows the subscriber to switch to another service provider while retaining the number, has seen an increase of 9.8 per cent with 11,437 numbers retained in the third quarter of this year as compared to 10,413 in Q2.

According to the report, revenue from both mobile and fixed line subscribers declined during this quarter. The former contributed a monthly revenue of RO7.9 per subscriber compared to RO8.3 in Q2 while revenue from fixed phones declined from RO11.9 in Q2 to RO9.8 in Q3.

For fixed line subscribers, the penetration rate per 100 inhabitants rose 10.9 per cent from 10.67 per cent in the second quarter, and Internet penetration per 100 households went up to 26.9 per cent from 25.6 per cent.

An internal TRA study conducted earlier this year found that Internet cafés are on the verge of closure, while a lot of pay phones are lying defunct, concluding that both the services are facing sustainability issues.

“The service providers have complained that revenues from pay phone services have fallen significantly. We have taken note of the situation, and may issue directions soon to address the issue,” a TRA official said.

According to the report, there was a decline in the volume of traffic because tariff plans for pay phones have remained unchanged for long, while several attractive offers are introduced regularly for mobile services.

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