Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Change at Omantel

There's an interesting interview with Omantel's CEO, Mohammed Al-Wohaibi, on the telecom journal Comm website.

Omantel is in the process of merging back into being a single company after their disastrous decision in 2004 to split the company into two separate companies. After the completion of this process, Oman Mobile will not longer exist, most probably not even as a brand. All the company's products will be sold as Omantel. Thankfully, Oman Mobile and its incredibly ugly logo and colors will disappear from existence. Omantel will rebrand with a new logo, supposedly by the first quarter of 2009.

Current market talk is that the government has differed the partial sale of their stake in the company to a strategic investor. Due to the current fall in the company's stock price, the government feels that the offers they get will be too low. I am not sure how true the talk is of the government expecting 3 rials per share as the sale price.

I don't understand how the company can go through so many changes, especially such as the new logo and branding, when at the same time it is being shopped around. Wouldn't the new owners want a say on the branding?

The interview is worth reading. He is canded on some things and typically political on others. On the subject of all the MVNO licenses that the TRA recently awarded:
I would say that a more prudent strategy would have been to issue two MVNO licences and then see how the market reacts. Maybe in one or two years’ time if the regulator wanted to introduce more competition, then issue a third or fourth licence. But to issue an MVNO licence to anybody who knocks on the door and fulfils minimum requirements? I think that is quite risky. We have to appreciate that throughout the world, failure of MVNOs is very high,”
He also mentions that Omantel has approached the TRA for a WiMAX license. Nawras has received a WiMAX license along with their fixed line license. This gives Nawras an advantage in that they can provide broadband internet without having to build expensive cable infrastructure. In his words: "The regulator has offered WiMAX to the second operator, which does not create a fair ground to compete."

Link: All Change At Omantel


omanvirtually said...

It’s interesting that the interview did not discuss the investment into Pakistan ; I wonder what returns this investment strategy will bring to OmanTel .
He said in reference to WiMAX “which does not create a fair ground to compete”. But doesn’t OmanTel have its own built in advantages accrued from Oman Government ownership (capital investment, and infrastructure ownership) which Nawras had to compete against ? – without much complaint.
Perhaps the OmanTel Eye was so far off the ball game with all the investment into Pakistan and splitting into OmanTel and OmanMobile that the poor customer was overlooked and walked into Nawras.

Kishor Cariappa said...

Omantel and Nawras have become cry babies. In the past, Nawras did get a rap from TRA for 'speaking ill' of Oman Mobile in one particular press release. I am sure this is going to get worse when MVNOs arrive on the scene.

MNB4800 said...

Nawras gained trust after Oman Mobile slacked on 3G implementation. Not to mention that it stalled Nawras 3G for 1 year.

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