Thursday, May 24, 2007

Ramping Up Internet Usage And Content

The development of broadband systems and content across Oman is essential if the sultanate is to maintain and expand its profile as a key site for inward investment. Not only are broadband technologies required for companies, particularly those in the media, design, manufacturing, oil and gas, tourism, education and IT sectors, but constant, high quality internet access is also increasingly in demand by the general public for the speedy, efficient internet service it provides.

The Digital Nation Series organized by Knowledge Oasis Muscat (KOM) in partnership with Ericsson (Roger Hage pictured), Microsoft, HP, Infocomm, SAP Arabia, Omania e-Commerce, Nawras and OER will hold a seminar on Sunday 10 June at the Crowne Plaza Hotel, Muscat that will focus on Ramping Internet Usage in Oman. The panel will discuss broadband services and the development of local content and their importance to Oman’s economic development.

According to Mohammed Al Maskari, KOM’s Director General, broadband content and applications underpin innovation and skills development in Oman, develop new markets and produce step changes in productivity. Business will need to exploit to the full the potential of broadband applications and content, if it is to remain competitive in the long-term. This is not a single step process – our competitors across the world are seeking to gain the same advantage, so we need to run fast even to stay in the same place competitively.

With regard education and training, Karim Rahemtulla, CEO, Infocomm and a panelist at the 10 June Digital Nation seminar says broadband content has the potential of transforming the learning experience, improving co-operation between educational institutions, maximising their efficiency and the service they offer students and widening access to education. This will only have a positive impact for those engaged in full or part-time study.

It is also acknowledged that the public sector has a major role to play, both as a large customer and as a channel for aggregation of broadband demand, pushing broadband usage and capacity to new levels. In partnership with the private sector there are great opportunities in areas such as e-Health and e-Government to drive up the efficiency of the public sector and improve the service that the public sector provides to Oman’s citizens.

Developing local broadband content can also empower communities stimulating social and economic activity and preserving the vitality and life of local communities, suggests Rahemtulla. Creating and rolling out local content in the community context could be a major lever towards getting late Internet adopters signed up and participating.

The importance of broadband in contributing to Oman’s overall economic and social development cannot be underplayed. The level of investment in Oman’s telco infrastructure has already been substantial. Indeed, with the increasing availability of broadband infrastructure the next stage is take-up and exploitation by businesses, the public sector and consumers, which will in turn drive greater levels of engagement.

According to Al Maskari, awareness of the central role that content and applications need to take in the successful exploitation of broadband is growing and is reflected in the work of the Information Technology Authority. Content, whether a business tool, entertainment, a community portal or e-learning, is neither more nor less important than infrastructure – it is simply integral. It is important that any strategies for further broadband development across Oman fully take this into account, suggests the KOM Director General.

Broadband internet access and content will be the cause of profound economic and social change through the rest of this decade and will impact on all aspects of Oman’s economy, affecting growth, productivity and business competitiveness. This is why KOM has created the Digital Nation series, we want to engage the community in dialogue and discuss the technology issues that are shaping our world and the impact they are having, comments Al Maskari.