Oman’s Ministry of Transport and Communications has instructed the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) to cancel the tender process for the Sultanate’s third mobile network operator (MNO) licence, which was due to be awarded next month. The Oman News Agency reports that the licence will instead be assigned to a consortium of local investment funds and a strategic global partner, with the aim of strengthening the role of wealth funds in the country and enable them to contribute further to the national economy.
As previously reported by TeleGeography’s CommsUpdate, a number of Middle Eastern companies, including Saudi Telecom Company (STC), Kuwait’s Zain Group, UAE-based Emirates Telecommunications Corporation (Etisalat) and Sudan-based Sudatel Telecom Group, submitted technical and financial bids for permission to compete with incumbent MNOs Oman Telecommunications Company (Omantel) and Ooredoo Oman earlier this year. A shortlist of the qualified bidders was expected to be published on 14 August, with the winner scheduled to be announced on 4 September, but that month the licence award process was postponed to 30 November, following the completion of Omantel’s purchase of a 9.84% stake in Zain Group last month. The delay was reportedly enforced to give the TRA additional time to examine the potential implications of Omantel’s recent acquisition of a minority stake in Zain Group.