By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: Dec. 18: Omantel and Oman National Transport Company (ONTC) on Sunday signed a partnership agreement to provide free Wi-Fi in Mwasalat buses, in addition to a number of other services and facilities. Ahmed al Balushi, CEO, told the Observer the Wi-Fi service will be available from the first quarter of 2017. He also indicated that new routes could be announced for next year. The announcement might come this month. As per the new agreement, Omantel will pay RO 650,000 (RO 130,000 every year) to Mwasalat over a five-year period. In return, the telecom company will get to advertise in buses and bus stops.
The service will allow public transport users to experience first-hand the convenience of broadband mobile Internet. Two bus stations — one at Sultan Qaboos Street in Al Khuwair and the other one in South al Mawaleh — will be named after Omantel. The agreement is aimed at growing the partnership between the two companies in addition to enhancing levels of mutual cooperation and investment. This will be achieved by providing a package of facilities that will jointly boost the quality of services provided to customers. Al Balushi said: “We believe that this partnership integrates the roles between the two national companies for the benefit of the customer.
This step comes as part of Mwasalat’s efforts to find alternative solutions to support public transport, which will contribute to reducing our reliance on government support.” We expect an increased interest in our public transport service after launching this solution.” Talal Said al Mamari, CEO, Omantel, said: “We realise that everyone likes to stay connected when they’re on the move. This is why our Omantel 3.0 strategy is aimed at supporting the country’s transformation towards a connected digital society. Within this framework, our partnership with Mwasalat helps achieve this objective by providing free Internet for thousands of passengers who use public transport daily, while at the same time making travelling on Mwasalat a more attractive option.”
The company plans to introduce 350 buses over a period of three years, including ten-metre-long buses for shorter routes, 12-metre-long buses (standard), 15-20 double-decker buses and inter-city coaches. The company will also discuss a master plan for public transport at a conference in Muscat in February 2017.