Ex­pand­ing its global foot­print

Oman - A Nation on the Move - - Information Technology -

Since 1984, Al Mad­ina De­vel­op­ment & Sup­ply (ADS) has been pro­vid­ing com­plete in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ser­vices, e-gov­ern­ment so­lu­tions, tele­com ser­vices, sys­tem in­te­gra­tion, se­cu­rity prod­ucts, print­ing so­lu­tions, bio­met­ric so­lu­tions and turnkey so­lu­tions for both the pub­lic and pri­vate sec­tors.

As an Omani or­ga­ni­za­tion with a grow­ing global pres­ence, ADS is pro­vid­ing so­lu­tions to pro­tect busi­ness data and im­ple­ment ad­vanced and in­no­va­tive prod­ucts strat­egy for busi­nesses. ADS has af­fil­i­ate of­fices in the Mid­dle East, North Africa, Asia, Europe and the Amer­i­cas by pro­vid­ing gov­ern­ment and busi­nesses with the ef­fi­ciency and op­er­a­tional sup­port as well as eval­u­at­ing the ef­fec­tive­ness of In­for­ma­tion Se­cu­rity Gov­er­nance Prac­tices in de­vel­op­ing na­tions.

ADS has ap­plied its ex­per­tise and wealth of re­sources to estab­lish “Se­cu­rity Print­ing Press of Oman” (SPPO), an ISO cer­ti­fied se­cu­rity printer that con­ceives and pro­duces highly se­cure doc­u­ments rang­ing from MICR checks, epass­ports, bank cards, and Se­cure IDS and Doc­u­ments. As tes­ti­mony to its ad­vanced print­ing tech­nolo­gies and qual­ity prod­ucts, ADS has ad­di­tion­ally come to ex­ceed the in­dus­try’s most strin­gent re­quire­ments in pro­vided ser­vices un­der ISO cer­ti­fi­ca­tions QMS 9001-2015 and ISM 27001.

ma­jor IT in­dus­try is con­cen­trated in Mus­cat. Oman Data Park is the first cloud and data ser­vice in the Sul­tanate, and the first cloud online in the Mid­dle East. The gov­ern­ment in­vested $322.05 mil­lion in mod­ernising net­work since 2012 In 2014, IBM in­vested $1.2b to build on Soft Layer cloud ser­vices. The Sul­tanate plans to spend $1170.35mil­lion over the next 10 years to im­prove telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion ser­vices in all gov­er­norates as it is linked with the tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ment. The Sul­tanate is plan­ning to take ma­jor steps to cre­ate smart cities by in­tro­duc­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy in ev­ery walk of life, which will help the ur­ban pop­u­la­tion im­mensely. The coun­try’s In­for­ma­tion Tech­nol­ogy Author­ity (ITA) is de­vel­op­ing a long-term strat­egy un­til 2030 for cre­at­ing smart cities. The ITA will pro­vide poli­cies and reg­u­la­tions based on its seven pil­lars, which in­clude se­cu­rity, in­fra­struc­ture, e-gov­ern­ment and the de­vel­op­ment of so­ci­ety. The author­ity will also look into new job op­por­tu­ni­ties avail­able with the adop­tion of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, which is part of a smart cities.

The plan for smart cities in­clude a lo­gis­tics city near Mus­cat, Duqm, and Mad­i­nat Al Irfan, which in­cludes Oman Con­ven­tion and Ex­hi­bi­tion Cen­tre. The re­spon­si­bil­ity to de­liver ser­vices within a smart city lies with gov­ern­ment agen­cies. In a pro­to­type smart city, mu­nic­i­pal ser­vices such as light­ing, traf­fic lights, garbage dis­posal and build­ing man­age­ment will be driven by tech­nol­ogy.

Oman Broad­band Com­pany ( OBC) will pro­vide the in­fra­struc­ture for these cities, while the ma­jor tele­com ser­vice providers will play an im­por­tant role in build­ing other in­fra­struc­ture needed for de­vel­op­ing smart cities. The Sul­tanate has sev­eral ad­van­tages in de­vel­op­ing smart cities, which in­clude a well-de­vel­oped telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion in­fra­struc­ture base and high lev­els of smart­phone pen­e­tra­tion.

The na­tional broad­band strat­egy, which in­clude build­ing a nation-wide fi­bre op­tic back­bone and strength­en­ing of gov­ern­ment net­work, is also ex­pected to sup­port the for­ma­tion of smart cities to a large ex­tent. TRA had launched the na­tional broad­band strat­egy way back in 2010, with the ul­ti­mate aim of in­tro­duc­ing a broad­band con­nec­tion into ev­ery home and busi­ness.

The broad­band strat­egy is fo­cus­ing on con­nect­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery build­ing and vil­lage across the Sul­tanate to na­tional broad­band in­fra­struc­ture by 2040. Ac­cord­ingly, the fi­bre op­tic cov­er­age is tar­geted to ex­tend to 80 per cent by 2020. The Na­tional Broad­band Strat­egy aims to over­come the low lev­els of fixed broad­band pen­e­tra­tion within Oman, and the chal­lenges pre­sented with the rapid ex­pan­sion of mo­bile broad­band net­work in an of­ten ge­o­graph­i­cally-chal­leng­ing land­scape. This in­volves the re­quire­ment to build new tow­ers and the scarcity of avail­able spec­trum, in ad­di­tion to the high cost of broad­band in re­la­tion to the gross do­mes­tic prod­uct when com­pared with the rest of the Mid­dle East and the world. The main ob­jec­tives of Na­tional Broad­band Strat­egy are to pro­vide ac­cess for ev­ery ci­ti­zen and res­i­dent in Oman to high speed broad­band at af­ford­able prices, pro­vide ac­cess to all en­ter­prises in Oman world-class broad­band ser­vices to en­able com­pa­nies to ef­fec­tively com­pete at the in­ter­na­tional level and pro­vid­ing ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties with ac­cess to broad­band ser­vices to bridge the digital gap.

As part of a ma­jor strat­egy, Oman Broad­band Com­pany (OBC), which started oper­a­tion in 2014, has suc­ceeded in rolling out fi­bre op­tic in­fra­struc­ture across Mus­cat city with a view to ramp­ing up broad­band-based In­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion. The fi­bre op­tic in­fra­struc­ture is be­ing made avail­able to three ma­jor ser­vice providers – the ma­jor­ity state-owned Oman Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pany, Omani Qatari Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pany (Oore­doo Oman) and Awasr. Oman Broad­band Com­pany has pro­vided ad­di­tional fi­bre op­tic con­nec­tion to 11,000 peo­ple in the first ten months of 2016. As per the plan, as many as 90 per cent of Mus­cat will be cov­ered with fi­bre op­tic con­nec­tiv­ity within two years.

Ru­ral areas and other re­mote lo­ca­tions, home to around 23 per cent of the na­tional pop­u­la­tion, will be cov­ered in dif­fer­ent phases of the mul­ti­stage pro­gramme. The speed of In­ter­net ser­vices is ex­pected to im­prove in the fu­ture as tele­com firms are switch­ing over to high­speed fi­bre op­tic ca­ble net­works for the next phase of long-term de­vel­op­ment, which is mainly sup­ported by OBC. OBC has tied-up with var­i­ous min­istries and gov­ern­ment-run util­i­ties, no­tably the Pub­lic Author­ity for Elec­tric­ity and Wa­ter, Min­istry of Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties and Wa­ter Re­sources, Haya Wa­ter, for lay­ing ca­bles in con­junc­tion with the trench­ing and pipe-lay­ing pro­grammes of the lat­ter en­ti­ties.

All these ini­tia­tives are sup­port­ing the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions sec­tor in the Sul­tanate, which will help save money and ef­fort and time taken for set­ting up a busi­ness unit. In fact, the Sul­tanate has been on a jour­ney to­wards digital trans­for­ma­tion for over a decade now

The broad­band strat­egy is fo­cus­ing on con­nect­ing vir­tu­ally ev­ery build­ing and vil­lage across the Sul­tanate to na­tional broad­band in­fra­struc­ture by 2040

by im­ple­ment­ing e.oman strat­egy which ITA is re­spon­si­ble for im­ple­ment­ing in co­op­er­a­tion with the gov­ern­ment and pri­vate sec­tors, spurred by the re­al­i­sa­tion that tech­nol­ogy can have a pro­found ef­fect on all as­pects of the so­ci­ety. ITA be­lieve that digital and in­no­va­tive so­lu­tions can help in trans­form­ing the coun­try into a knowl­edge-based econ­omy, lev­er­ag­ing tech­nol­ogy as a key en­abler, and as a means for eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and sus­tained de­vel­op­ment.

The high-speed, fi­bre-based fixed­broad­band ser­vice is set to grow strongly as Oman Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pany, Oore­doo Oman, and the gov­ern­ment­backed Oman Broad­band Co have been ex­pand­ing their de­ploy­ment of fi­bre op­tic net­works. As far as Oman­tel and Oore­doo are con­cerned, a strong growth in broad­band data ser­vice has com­pen­sated for a fall in rev­enue from short mes­sage ser­vice (SMS) and in­ter­na­tional calls pro­vided by multi­na­tional giants like what­sapp. Ac­cord­ing to a re­port on the telecom­mu­ni­ca­tion sec­tor re­leased by Ovum, the num­ber of op­tic fi­bre sub­scrip­tions in Oman will reach 99,000 by 2020, giv­ing it a 32.2 per cent share of the fixed broad­band mar­ket by sub­scrip­tions in 2020. How­ever, cop­per-based digital sub­scriber line (DSL) will con­tinue to be the main tech­nol­ogy for fixed broad­band in Oman, ac­count­ing for 43.8 per cent of fixed broad­band sub­scrip­tions in 2020. The coun­try’s in­ter­net pen­e­tra­tion and speed re­ceived a shot in the arm with the launch of Awasr – the Sul­tanate’s first spe­cialised high-speed fire in­ter­net provider. The broad­band fi­bre op­tic pack­ages of­fered by Awasr aim to sup­port the gov­ern­ment’s vi­sion in re­in­forc­ing the Sul­tanate’s digital in­fra­struc­ture and of­fer­ing high-speed In­ter­net ser­vices.

Awasr fol­lows Oman Broad­band Com­pany in pro­vid­ing broad­band con­nec­tions to homes in dif­fer­ent areas. OBC has built op­ti­cal fi­bre net­work in co­op­er­a­tion with Haya Wa­ter. Mean­while, the mo­bile sub­scrip­tion in the Sul­tanate reached 7.05 mil­lion at the end of April, reg­is­ter­ing a 2.7 per cent growth over the same pe­riod of 2016. The to­tal num­ber of fixed tele­phone lines was 457,022, reg­is­ter­ing a growth of 8.2 per cent. Ac­tive mo­bile broad­band sub­scrip­tions reached 4.1 mil­lion, up 4.2 per cent.

As de­mand for mo­bile and fixed broad­band ser­vices con­tin­ues to rise across the Sul­tanate, the two lead­ing tele­com ser­vices providers are in­vest­ing heav­ily in net­work ex­pan­sion and mod­erni­sa­tion. Oman Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Com­pany has en­tered into an agree­ment with the Sul­tanate’s lead­ing air­ports in Mus­cat, Salalah, Sohar, and Duqm to be­come the main net­work and smart so­lu­tions provider. This part­ner­ship aims at en­hanc­ing the per­for­mance of air­ports across the Sul­tanate, in all as­pects es­pe­cially safety and se­cu­rity. Air­ports in Oman are con­nected to each other by a stan­dard­ised net­work of fixed mo­bile telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions ser­vices, broad­band in­ter­net ser­vices, and fi­bre op­tics pro­vided by Oman­tel.

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