Nawras upgrade plans on track

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An advertisement banner of Nawras company announcing the ‘Rannati’ product launch. The Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company, also known as Nawras, has obtained financing worth USD 182 million for its aggressive network upgrade plans. Photo-Nawras

Omani Qatari Telecommunications Company, also known as Nawras, has obtained financing worth USD 182 million for its aggressive network upgrade plans.

The five-year financing agreement will help the telecom provide funds for capital expenditure and working capital requirements. The financing has been provided by a consortium of DBS Bank – Dubai Branch, HSBC Oman, Mizuho Corporate Bank and Qatar National Bank.

Nawras, Oman’s second largest telecom operator, would be using the new funds to upgrade its network to increase speed, capacity and provide wider coverage to customers. The company, in which Qatar Telecom (Qtel) holds a majority stake, plans to increase its 3G+ capacity, and soon also launch 4G LTE services and a new network footprint. The 3G coverage by Nawras in Oman stands at 53 percent, compared to 87 percent for broadband. The operator had already started the testing of fourth generation networks, which would be able to deliver high speed data downloads including high definition (HD) broadband and mobile TV services.

Jorgen Latte, chief financial officer of Nawras, states that “there had been a huge interest from both local and foreign banks in our new facility. The strong commitment of the international banks in this new facility also reflects the strength and trust in the Omani economy and Nawras as one of its key flagship companies.”

The telecom operator saw its profitability decline by around 47 percent in third-quarter profit in October. The company blamed the slump on decreasing text revenue and higher network maintenance costs. Nawras also faces stiff competition from Omantel, which hosts mobile virtual network operators (MVNOs) including Friendi and Renna. Omantel has also targeted lower income expatriate groups, a key customer base of Nawras.

Recently, Nawras had launched number portability for fixed line services in a bid to lure corporate customers from former monopoly Oman Telecommunications (Omantel). The decision was expected to increase the base of corporate clients, who had to previously change their telephone number to switch to Nawras’ fixed line services.

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