Telenor Myanmar readies 10M SIMs ahead of September launch

Telenor Myanmar said it will make 10 million SIM cards available when it launches commercial services in the country in September, and that it will follow rival Ooredoo's rollout plan by initially launching in three cities before expanding availability.

Hanne Knudsen, head of communications at Telenor Myanmar, told FierceWireless:Europe that the company will launch its first services in Myanmar's three major cities--Yangon, Mandalay, and Nay Pyi Taw. He added that Telenor Myanmar is communicating the number of SIM cards it will have available "because we want the customers to know that there will be enough to go around," and ensure subscribers don't pay more than the MMK1,500 (€1.15/$1.54) price tag set on its SIM cards as part of its licence terms "if prices are pushed up due to shortage, for example."

Telenor Myanmar's 2G and 3G SIM cards will work in consumers' existing handsets, which potentially removes a barrier to adoption by eliminating the cost of upgrading to a new device. Calls will be priced a MMK25 per minute.

The operator is on track to launch commercial operations in Myanmar in September, although Knudsen noted it has yet to set a specific date. Service expansion will come "as more towers are finished", he said. Local news agency Burma News International reported Telenor Myanmar will have 800 towers in operation at launch.

Rival Ooredoo stole a march on Telenor in Myanmar when the Qatar-based operator announced on Aug. 3 that it had opened for business in the same three cities. The operator said the initial services are available free of charge, and detailed plans to extend coverage to 68 towns and cities by Aug. 15.

Telenor and Ooredoo initially aimed to launch commercial services in Myanmar in the first half of 2014, after becoming the first non-domestic companies to win operating licences in June 2013. The pair had to push back their plans following delays in the award of the 15-year licences, which were eventually handed over in January 2014.

Myanmar presents a strong opportunity for the operators, with mobile penetration currently estimated to stand at 10 per cent out of a population of 60 million people.

The companies will compete with state-run Myanmar Posts & Telecommunications (MPT), which is working with Japanese operator KDDI and conglomerate Sumitomo Corp. to develop its services.

For more:
- see this Ooredoo press release
- read the Burma News International article

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