The long wait for Ooredoo in Myanmar

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Ooredoo Myanmar1Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor, the two companies that won the bid for Myanmar’s much-anticipated foreign-offered mobile telecommunications services, haven’t yet been issued their formal licenses although the bidding round dates almost half a year back, Myanmar newspaper The Irrawaddy reported last week.

The licenses are unlikely to be available before August 2014, as negotiations continue over finalising network operator frameworks and related telecoms rules.

“We are in discussions with the government about the draft license and we expect that to complete by the end of 013,” Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg was quoted as saying said during a press conference in Rangoon on November 19.

In June 2013, the Myanmar government announced that Ooredoo and Telenor won a hotly-contested tender for two 15 year telecommunications licenses. Ooredoo has said it will issue SIM cards just six months after the start date of the forthcoming licenses.

The formal license awarding was originally expected by September 2013, but was subsequently held up by parliamentary debate over Myanmar’s new telecommunications law. And though the measure has since been passed, ongoing negotiations over the related telecoms rules, which were posted on the Myanmar Ministry of Communications and Technology website on November 4 and are open for public comment until December 2, have also slowed up the license awarding process.

Ooredoo and Telenor will not be the only two foreign companies offering network services in Myanmar, as the government is soliciting partnership applications from some of the losing bidders in the initial license race.

The 15-year 3G licence will allow Ooredoo to roll out national mobile networks and provide affordable mobile services, including money transfer and data services. The total investment in Myanmar by Ooredoo is projected to be $15 billion over the period. Ooredoo’s experience in emerging markets such as Indonesia has helped the company take a positive first step in Myanmar. But for rolling out the massive network across the country, the company has selected two external firms to provide additional advice and legal support.

According to latest statistics, just 5.4 million of Myanmar’s 60-million population have mobile phones – a penetration rate of just 9 per cent. As mobile phone services have been so scarce the costs are prohibitively expensive for most locals. A SIM card used to costs about $160, much more than the average monthly income, but are now gradually being reduced with the advent of foreign mobile phone firms.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Qatar’s leading newspaper Gulf Times and is published every Sunday.

Gulf Times

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor, the two companies that won the bid for Myanmar’s much-anticipated foreign-offered mobile telecommunications services, haven’t yet been issued their formal licenses although the bidding round dates almost half a year back, Myanmar newspaper The Irrawaddy reported last week.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Ooredoo Myanmar1Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor, the two companies that won the bid for Myanmar’s much-anticipated foreign-offered mobile telecommunications services, haven’t yet been issued their formal licenses although the bidding round dates almost half a year back, Myanmar newspaper The Irrawaddy reported last week.

The licenses are unlikely to be available before August 2014, as negotiations continue over finalising network operator frameworks and related telecoms rules.

“We are in discussions with the government about the draft license and we expect that to complete by the end of 013,” Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg was quoted as saying said during a press conference in Rangoon on November 19.

In June 2013, the Myanmar government announced that Ooredoo and Telenor won a hotly-contested tender for two 15 year telecommunications licenses. Ooredoo has said it will issue SIM cards just six months after the start date of the forthcoming licenses.

The formal license awarding was originally expected by September 2013, but was subsequently held up by parliamentary debate over Myanmar’s new telecommunications law. And though the measure has since been passed, ongoing negotiations over the related telecoms rules, which were posted on the Myanmar Ministry of Communications and Technology website on November 4 and are open for public comment until December 2, have also slowed up the license awarding process.

Ooredoo and Telenor will not be the only two foreign companies offering network services in Myanmar, as the government is soliciting partnership applications from some of the losing bidders in the initial license race.

The 15-year 3G licence will allow Ooredoo to roll out national mobile networks and provide affordable mobile services, including money transfer and data services. The total investment in Myanmar by Ooredoo is projected to be $15 billion over the period. Ooredoo’s experience in emerging markets such as Indonesia has helped the company take a positive first step in Myanmar. But for rolling out the massive network across the country, the company has selected two external firms to provide additional advice and legal support.

According to latest statistics, just 5.4 million of Myanmar’s 60-million population have mobile phones – a penetration rate of just 9 per cent. As mobile phone services have been so scarce the costs are prohibitively expensive for most locals. A SIM card used to costs about $160, much more than the average monthly income, but are now gradually being reduced with the advent of foreign mobile phone firms.

This comment is part of Inside Investor’s weekly column series in Qatar’s leading newspaper Gulf Times and is published every Sunday.

Gulf Times

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