Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) Development in Oman: a Critical Evaluation of the Role of Telecom Regulation

  • Ahmed Abdullah Issa Al Abri

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisProfessional Doctorate (ProfD)


This study aimed to critically analyse the role of telecom regulations in Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) development in the Sultanate of Oman, and to make recommendations on how the government and other regulators can improve the telecom regulatory environment to promote SME development in the country. The literature review has shown that, while regulations in the telecom industry influence SME development, few previous studies have explored how telecom regulations can support SMEs in terms of eased access to telecom services and ensuring that the telecom infrastructure and service packages are suitable, satisfactory, available, and meet their requirements. This gap in the existing knowledge, as it relates to the impact of government action, has triggered the current study to explore how telecom regulations in Oman support, or fail to support, SME development. Therefore, the research was guided by four objectives. First, to develop an understanding of the telecom industry and its regulation with an emphasis on SMEs in Oman. Second, to critically explore the practices of telecom regulators in Oman in relation to how these affect the provision of telecom services to SMEs. Third, to identify the gaps between the telecom requirements of SMEs like the affordable, accessible, and available telecom infrastructure and services offered by telecom operators and what is offered under current regulations by telecom providers. Fourth, to provide recommendations to develop an effective framework for telecom regulation approaches to support SMEs in Oman.

Twenty-one semi-structured interviews were conducted with stakeholders from three sectors: five government officials, six telecom operators, and ten SME owners. An ii interpretative phenomenological methodology has been used to analyse qualitative data to capture the views and experiences of all interviewees about role of telecom regulations in SMEs development and their perceptions about the affordability and availability of the offered telecom services and infrastructure respectively.

The findings indicate that overall government support is necessary and that businesses are currently accessing less support than they need or feel that government support is limited and difficult to access. More specifically, current telecom regulations are not clear and create barriers to businesses accessing the services they need. Further, telecom services are regulated in such a way that it complicates SMEs’ abilities to receive telecom services that support their business operations. This indicates a need for greater, but also more simplified telecom regulations, increased funding and training, and an overall focus on ensuring that regulation aligns with specific SMEs business needs, as it relates to telecom services. Hence, the recommendations made include increased financial government support and augmented training while decreasing regulatory barriers, overall simplification of the application and approval process, and targeted bridging of the gaps between SMEs and telecom providers. This study contributed to the larger body of knowledge first by developing an understanding of the perceptions of SME owners in Oman on the role and current level of government support to SMEs generally. Second, by developing an understanding of the perceptions of SME owners in Oman about the role of telecom regulations in supporting and enabling SMEs, the suitability of telecom services offered to SMEs, and the role of the telecom sector in nurturing SMEs development and thus the size of SMEs sector in Oman.
Date of Award2020
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • Glasgow Caledonian University
SupervisorSusan Ogden (Supervisor)

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