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Keeping in touch.

THE GENERAL Telecommunications Organisation (GTO) is responsible for establishing the infrastructure of a telecommunications network and extending it throughout the Sultanate. In 1970 there were only slightly more than 500 telephone lines in the whole of Oman, covering only the Muscat region, while for international communication there were just three telephone and one telegraph channels.

Today Oman has the world's only 100% digital telephone system, operated by state-of-the-art technology and the network extends the length and breadth of the country. GTO's President Mohammed bin Noor, explained to The Middle East that establishing an efficient communications system was designated a priority by the government years ago.

"From the outset our aim was to reach the smallest community in the country and connect it with everywhere else. Bringing people together in a country where a small population is spread over such a large area of land is not any easy task but establishing an efficient telecommunications system has been a primary objective of the Sultanate since the early 1970s.

"The financial investment required to achieve this was not affected by the recession and $100m a year continues to be spent on expanding and improving the network."

The ability to be able to keep in touch quickly and efficiently with what is happening in other areas of Oman and beyond cannot be overestimated at this time in the country's development. The government is keen to ensure that as the economy diversifies and develops there will not be a mad rush from rural areas to the cities.

An efficient telecommunications system means that for the most part a bank, an office, a farm or a factory can operate from any area of the country as effectively as from anywhere else.

Today Oman boasts a telephone system with more than 200,000 lines. Some 5,000 subscribers enjoy the benefits of a mobile telephone and this figure is expected to rise to 7,500 by the end of the year.

During the last two years 20,000 paging systems have been introduced in the Sultanate and, according to Mohammed bin Noor, this popular form of communication could attract as many as 50,000 subscribers over the next few years.

Almost 82% of GTO's workforce are Omani nationals and the company is committed to increasing this figure. Local specialists, trained in Europe and the United States, play an important role in the organisation's development and, the company's president confirmed, training will continue to feature prominently throughout GTO's planning strategy.

Local resources

PART OF Oman's good housekeeping policy has been, wherever possible, to fill local jobs with local labour. As a result it is clear to even the most casual observer that, unlike many neighbouring Gulf states, Oman is run largely by the Omanis.

The Sultanate continues to aim for a reduction in dependency on expatriate labour and although some critics have warned that the policy of Omanisation could reduce the efficiency and the competitiveness of Omani industry, no change of policy is anticipated as banks and businesses continue to pursue a goal of employing as near to 100% Omani workforce as possible.
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Copyright 1993 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:Special Report; Oman's telecommunications industry
Publication:The Middle East
Date:Nov 1, 1993
Words:516
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