80% households in Oman have Internet access

Muscat - 

The first of its kind survey conducted by the Information Technology Authority (ITA) on ‘Access to and Use of Information and Communications Technology (ICT) by Households and Individuals 2013’, has thrown up some interesting facts.

The survey, which covered 11,000 randomly selected households across the sultanate, found that more than 90 per cent of them possess at least one mobile phone or smartphone, more than 80 per cent own at least one computer, and about 80 per cent of households in Oman have Internet access.

Interestingly, use of computers starts at a very early age, especially among urban youth and access to Internet increases significantly after the age of 15 years.

However, surprisingly most jobseekers do not recognise the need to use computers while half of the jobseekers in the 15-19 age group (compared to one-third of employed individuals) revealed they do not use computers due to lack of skills.

About 40 per cent of the jobseekers also consider the high price of equipment as a barrier.

The survey suggests that targeted ICT awareness and training programmes should be designed for this segment in order to increase employability.

Results of the survey also show that society does not seem to be interested in e-commerce-related services as 85 per cent of those interviewed indicated they have never bought or ordered anything over the Internet.

On Internet speed and price, more than two in three Internet users said that the speed is too slow (72 per cent) and that the price was too high (66.6 per cent).

Concerning the use of social media tools, the situation is quite homogeneous throughout the country as Facebook and YouTube are the most used social networks.

Only one quarter of individuals interviewed said they use Twitter, 22 per cent use forums and seven per cent use blogs compared to 51 per cent using Facebook and 59 per cent using YouTube.

Also, a majority of households (more than 80 per cent) own at least one computer (eg desktop, laptop or tablet), with no noticeable difference between urban and rural areas.

Moreover, the Internet is mainly accessed through mobile broadband (43 per cent), followed by fixed wireless broadband (15 per cent) and narrow band analogue modem (17 per cent).

Despite the high percentage of Internet penetration, there is a small percentage of households which do not have Internet access due to lack of coverage (42 per cent), high price of services (32 per cent), lack of knowledge and skills (25 per cent), and lack of need and high cost of the equipment.

Computers are more intensively used in the upper levels of education, and by employees of the public sector, with percentages reaching 90 per cent among females interviewed. Furthermore, the use of computer is highest among students (92 per cent). The main reasons for not using computers are lack of need (63 per cent), followed by lack of ICT skills (34 per cent) and high costs associated with it (23 per cent). 

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