Myanmar delays award of fourth mobile licence as Telenor marks its first year

The government of Myanmar delayed the award of the market's fourth and final mobile telecoms licence until October despite receiving expressions of interest from 17 local companies, the local Irrawaddy newspaper reported.

According to the paper, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) had planned to announce the winners by the end of September but now says the winners would be chosen "in the next few weeks".

"We're trying to select them as soon as possible, but it won't be done this month," Chit Wai, deputy permanent secretary of communications, told The Irrawaddy. He said the ministry would be able to announce the tender winners by the second week of October.

According to the required criteria, companies must have operated for at least three months and have capital of at least MMK3 billion (€2 million/$2.3 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 government plans to form a new public company after selecting a number of domestic players to partner with a foreign service provider, creating the market's fourth mobile player.

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 said in a report from August.

In a post to mark the company's first year in the market, Telenor said it was now serving 10 million customers (as of July 2015) through a 3G network of 3,100 towers.

Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter-Børre Furberg said the company remained committed to offering good quality voice and data services at affordable prices.

"Our 100 per cent 3G network now reaches 13 major divisions/states; Mandalay, Yangon, Sagaing, Bago, Magway, Ayeyarwaddy, Tanintharyi, Kayin, Mon, Kachin, Shan, Kayah, and in union territory Nay Pyi Taw. We expect to launch our network in the Rakhine and Chin very soon," Furberg added.

However, Ooredoo Myanmar's new CEO Rene Meza told the Myanmar Times that competition on the market has now pushed down prices to the brink of what is sustainable.

"I think we reached a certain level too quickly…we probably already crossed the line between affordability and sustainable prices," Meza told the paper.

The Myanmar Times said Telenor currently leads on voice and data pricing, standard at MMK5 per megabyte and MMK18 per minute for calls between Telenor users under its Super Pwar plan.

For more:
- see this article from The Irrawaddy
- see this Telenor Myanmar release
- see this Myanmar Times article

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