Telenor's Myanmar service delayed over licence negotiations

Telenor does not expect to start operating its network in Myanmar before August 2014 due to a delay in finalising the licence, the operator's CEO said on Wednesday.

Jon Fredrik Baksaas told reporters that licensing should be completed by the end of this year, which would enable Telenor to launch services in the third quarter of next year, Reuters reported. The Norwegian operator, which along with Ooredoo won the country's first foreign-held mobile licences in June this year, had originally planned to launch services in the middle of 2014.

"We are in discussions with the government about the draft licence and we expect that to complete by the end of this year," Telenor Myanmar CEO Petter Furberg said during a press conference in Rangoon on Tuesday, according to The Irrawaddy.

The opportunity to sell SIM cards in the country initially drew interest from over 90 companies, which were attracted by the fact that around 90 per cent of the 60 million population are believed to be without access to a mobile network.

The Irrawaddy reported that the licences were expected to be formally awarded by September, but the process was held up by parliamentary debate over Myanmar's new telecommunications law. Baksaas added that the deadline for finalised details of the licence is Dec. 3.

Reuters noted that Ooredoo has said it planned to spend $15 billion (€11.2 billion) over the 15-year licence period and is also seeking to share transmitter towers with Telenor.

The Irrawaddy added that Telenor and Ooredoo could face competition from other foreign players as the government is reported to have recently solicited partnership applications from some of the losing bidders in the initial licence round. That could bring in a foreign partner for Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT).

Telenor also said it was seeking Burmese business partners to act as distributors and franchisees to sell SIM cards and top-up vouchers and hopes to have 100,000 retailers within five years of launching its network.

For more:
- see this Reuters article
- see this Irrawaddy article

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