This study, for the Government of Oman, proposed a strategy for rolling out affordable basic broadband to everybody in Oman within three years and high-speed broadband to virtually everyone within eight years.
The benefits of such a strategy are considerable. There is now a substantial body of evidence which demonstrates that universal use of broadband-based Internet in Oman will:
- Increase the productivity of both Government and private organisations considerably, leading to a significant boost to GDP;
- Enrich the lives of all citizens, by giving them access to a wide range of new e-services;
- Enable the delivery of better and cheaper e-services, in particular the delivery of e-education and e-health applications to rural schools and health centres;
- Improve the lives of those living in rural communities.
The study proposes a balanced approach to government investment in broadband – investment where the economic and social benefits are likely to exceed the costs and where the market players are unlikely to invest. As such, the study does not advocate the immediate rollout of high speed fibre broadband to every home due to the large cost and the unproven incremental benefits of high speed broadband over basic broadband.
The strategy proposed is the delivery basic broadband to everyone by 2016, with rollout of high-speed broadband in stages over the next few years. This is achieved via the provision of satellite and mobile broadband to rural communities. The study also advocated a combination of financial incentives and targeted subsidies to accelerate fibre deployment in urban areas, to be followed by funding for rural fibre roll-out.
In parallel, the study proposed a number of measures to improve the broadband market, including measures to stimulate competition and to lower the cost of broadband provision. The study suggested that this plan could provide substantial net economic benefits to Oman.