Myanmar attracts 17 applications for fourth mobile licence

Myanmar received applications from 17 companies to join a consortium that would operate the country's fourth mobile network, Reuters reported.

Chit Wai, a deputy permanent secretary at the Ministry of Communication and Information, told the news agency that the list of winning applicants would be unveiled in September and the new 15-year licence probably granted by the end of the year.

According to the required criteria, companies must have operated for at least three months and have capital of at least MMK3 billion (€2 million/$2.4 million). Yatanarpon Teleport is believed to be one of the favourites, according to a July report from the Myanmar Times. In December last year it was reported that the state-backed Internet service provider planned to partner with Vietnam's Viettel Global to build the market's fourth mobile network.

The Myanmar mobile market has only recently been opened up to competition. Norway-based Telenor and Qatar's Ooredoo both now offer services alongside MPT, a joint venture between the telecoms ministry and Japan's KDDI.

The two foreign operators have so far enjoyed considerable success from their Myanmar businesses, which have helped to boost mobile penetration to around half of the population of 51 million, Reuters noted.

In July, Telenor reported what analysts described as "another extraordinary result from the start-up in Myanmar" in its second-quarter results presentation. The company also said in May that it had 6.4 million mobile customers in Myanmar, placing the Norway-based operator well ahead of rival Ooredoo Myanmar's 3.3 million subscribers reported at the end of the first quarter of 2015.

The companies hoping to win the fourth licence will no doubt be able to learn some lessons from their rivals, which despite their successes have also noted that providing mobile services in Myanmar is extremely challenging.

In May Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter-Børre Furberg outlined six main areas of risk that continue to face Telenor. These include corruption, institutional capacity (the ability of government to implement processes and take decisions, for example), the legal framework, land issues (such as land ownership matters), supply chain sustainability and ethnic states.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Myanmar Times article

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