Muscat: With the phenomenal growth of the telecom sector over the past few decades, the service providers have had to take up the challenge of increasing consumer demands, specially in the rural areas of the country.
The network users have been clamouring for better services and wider network coverage to serve the interior areas.
Although experts are of the opinion that Oman's telecom services are at par with that in other GCC countries, the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) has been flooded with demands to enhance the efficiency of its network and to subsidise the services for the lower segment of the society.
A study conducted recently by the TRA found that the number of villages nationwide that lacked network coverage was 1,795, which is about 34.2 per cent of the total villages in the Sultanate.
According to the report for 2012, the TRA had conducted field surveys across the Sultanate, covering 2,577 villages and towns to identify areas with no telecom services or those that have inadequate services. The authority added that the number of villages with network coverage had reached 3,385, or 65.8 per cent of all the villages in the Sultanate.
Some areas, including parts of the capital, "lack quality network" coverage, and many complaints have been filed by the residents who want the providers to improve both mobile and Internet services.
Naser Al Balushi, a Wadi Kabir resident, said the telecommunications services in his area are "not up to the mark", and even the 3G network does not work in some parts of the area.
Residents in Wadi Sahtan in the wilayat of Rustaq have to climb up the mountain to make calls due to the poor network service in the area.
Mohammed Al Saeedi, a Sahtan resident, told Times of Oman that the wadi's residents are isolated from other parts of the country because of the difficulty in connecting with the network and contacting others, despite constant complaints and demands to provide better network coverage.
Meanwhile, social network users too are demanding improved online services provided by communications companies in the Sultanate. They have sought lower rates and faster development of the communications network in the Sultanate.
Ahmed Al Masroori, an Omani national, pointed out that despite the promises of low tarriff from service providers, "expensive Internet offers were still being launched with poor service", despite the TRA's efforts to keep the tariff under check.
Observers say that more effort is needed for development of the telecom sector, and the TRA should put more pressure on service providers to improve their services. Al Masroori says, "Bringing in more service providers could help to create a more competitive environment for providers, and this would lead to lower rates and improved services."
Despite repeated attempts, TRA officials could not be contacted for their comments.