Oman's Nawras launches number portability

Fixed line move may help it woo corporate customers from rival telco Omantel

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

(Photo for illustrative purposes only)

Oman telecom operator Nawras launched number portability for fixed line services on Sunday in a move that may help it woo corporate customers from former monopoly Oman Telecommunications (Omantel).

Previously, companies had to change their telephone number to switch to Nawras' fixed line services, a requirement that analysts said was a hurdle to the operator winning corporate clients.

Number portability will mean this is no longer necessary, Nawras said in a statement.

Nawras, majority-owned by Qatar Telecom, reported fixed line revenue of OR33m ($85.70m) last year, having launched services in May 2010.

Omantel's fixed line revenue was OR40.9m in 2011, or 14 percent of total earnings.

Nawras reported declining profits in the first and second quarters of 2012 and its 2011 annual profit fell 5 percent from a year earlier, a drop it blamed on stiffening competition and higher costs.

This slump checked Nawras's momentum after the operator rapidly built up market share since ending Omantel's monopoly in 2005.

Omantel has fought back against its smaller rival, in part by hosting mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) including Friendi and Renna. These typically targeted lower income expatriate groups that had favoured Nawras.

Nawras had 1.76 million pay-as-you-go mobile subscribers at 2011-end, down from 1.86 million a year earlier.

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