Omantel Builds Another Submarine Cable
On May 18 2013 Omantel announced an agreement to build a new submarine cable called the 'Bay of Bengal Gateway' (BBG) and linking Oman to Singapore, with landing sites in the UAE, India, Sri Lanka and Malaysia. Omantel's investment in improved international broadband connectivity supports BMI's view that Oman's mobile operators will increasingly compete to provide superior quality network coverage capable of supporting high volumes of data usage.
|Oman Mobile, 3G and Broadband Subscriber Forecast|
The BBG submarine cable is commissioned by a consortium of six telecoms operators: Etisalat (UAE), Omantel, Telekom Malaysia Berhad, Vodafone Group (UK), Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd (India) and Dialog Axiata (Sri Lanka). It will be 8,00km long and have landing sites in Barka (Oman), Fujairah (UAE), Mumbai and Chennai (India), Rathmalana (Sri Lanka), Penang (Malaysia) and Singapore. Chief executive of Omantel Dr Amer al Rawas said the cable, which is set to begin commercial operations in the fourth quarter of 2014, will enable the operator to offer superior quality international connections between Singapore and Frankfurt, which it is linked to through the EPEG terrestrial cable.
Additional international bandwidth will also allow Omantel to cater to increasing demand for high speed broadband in its domestic market. As a small market that has already reached saturation, with a penetration rate of 181.7% in 2012, Oman's operators must focus on data services to maintain ARPUs. The uptake of 3G services has already been very strong and BMI expects this trend to continue through our forecast period, with the number of 3G subscribers for every 100 people doubling from 57 in 2012 to 117 in 2017. We also expect broadband penetration to grow considerably over the same time period, from 41% to 75%.
As well as being a product of improved connectivity, this surge in demand for data is also due to e-government initiatives and strong competition from the other major operator Nawras and MVNOs. BMI believes the BBG submarine cable will help support Omantel's LTE network, launched in July 2012, and enable the operator to keep up with rising retail and wholesale demand for high speed broadband services.