Omani cellco Nawras, owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel) and Danish incumbent TDC, has commercially launched 3G services in five cities, reports the Khaleej Times. A limited pilot of the technology has been taking place since April 2006 in Muscat, Sohar, Sur, Salalah and Nizwa. The new services are branded ‘3G+’ and CEO Ross McCormack said he expected a large majority of the 200,000-plus Nawras customers currently owning 3G handsets to subscribe soon, adding that ‘we will be expanding in 2008 according to customer demand.’ Nawras is offering a choice of four different price plans for 3G+ customers; ‘pay-as-you-go’, ‘light user’, ‘medium user’ and ‘heavy user’.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, this will be the first commercial 3G service in the Sultanate. Nawras was awarded a technology-neutral 3G concession in June 2004 as part of its mobile operating concession. Last month the company began a trial of 3.5G HSDPA services in the capital, Muscat. At the end of September 2007 Nawras had close to 900,000 subscribers, giving it roughly 38% of the market. The remainder was taken by Oman Mobile, the cellular arm of state-owned incumbent Omantel.