Vodafone and China Mobile have announced plans to form a consortium to jointly apply for a mobile operating license in the Myanmar market.
The world's two largest mobile operator groups by subscribers said they will together seek a 15-year license to build and operate a mobile network in the newly-liberalized nation.
China Mobile and Vodafone have submitted a pre-qualification application with Myanmar authorities. The application period ended on April 4.
The two operators have been collaborating in some form since 2000. Their combined might will give them an advantage in the auction process.
But it will likely be a tough competition – the Myanmar government only aims to issue two telecom licenses, and numerous operator groups have expressed an interest in bidding.
Myanmar is seen to be the one of the world's last mostly-untapped telecom markets, with a mobile penetration of under 10%, so operators have jumped at the chance to get in at the ground floor. The government has announced a policy of opening the nation's telecom sector up to international investment.
China Mobile and Vodafone's announcement indeed cautions that their application “is still at a preliminary stage and may or may not be ultimately successful.”
In a separate development for Myanmar's journey to mobile maturity, Myanmar news portal Mizzima has reported on a state TV announcement that the price of SIM cards in the nation will finally be cut dramatically.
From April 24, SIMs costing just 1,500 kyat (€1.32) will be available to consumers, according to the report. Previously SIMs cost upwards of 200,000 kyat (€176), putting them out of reach for many Myanmar consumers.