Everyone loves a bargain and the good news for mobile phone users in Oman is that they are getting one. According to a report from the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), the United Nations’ specialised agency for ICT, mobile phone services in the Sultanate are among the most affordable in the world.
The annual report, titled Measuring the Information Society, revealed that the average price of monthly pre-paid mobile phone services in Oman was $9.11 (RO3.51), or 0.43 per cent of gross national income (GNI) per capita.
The GCC region as a whole fares well in the global rankings, with monthly pre-paid mobile phone services costing less than 0.3 per cent of GNI per capita in Qatar and the UAE, placing them in fifth and sixth place respectively when it comes to the most affordable countries. Kuwait, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain also appear within the top 26.
The cheapest country was Sri Lanka, where monthly mobile costs were just 95 cents (RO0.37), while the most expensive of the 166 economies examined was Brazil. Residents of the South American country pay a whopping average of $48.32 (RO18.6) or 4.96 per cent of GNI per capita on mobile phone services each month.
It appears that mobiles are the method of communication of choice for many in Oman, with almost blanket mobile penetration, while fixed-line connections remain low, at only 3 per cent across the region.
Another piece of good news revealed by the report was that Oman’s total international internet bandwidth has increased dramatically, making the colossal leap from 17,792 bit/s to 82,010 Mbit/s in the space of a year.
This is largely thanks to the Europe-Persia Express Gateway that went live in 2013. The Gateway, which connects the UAE and Oman to Germany via the Islamic Republic of Iran, has served to greatly increase the international internet connectivity of the region.
Internet penetration has soared in Arab countries, with around 137 million people online by the end of 2013, according to the report.