Myanmar plans telecoms boom, opens to foreign bids

Jan 15, 2013
Customers look at HTC handsets on display in a HTC mobile phone shop in Yangon on January 14, 2013. Myanmar on Tuesday announced plans for a dramatic increase in telephone and Internet access as it opened the door for foreign firms to enter one of Asia's last untapped markets.

Myanmar on Tuesday announced plans for a dramatic increase in telephone and Internet access as it opened the door for foreign firms to enter one of Asia's last untapped markets.

The communications and information technology ministry said it was launching tenders for two nationwide telecommunications service licences, to be awarded in the first half of this year.

It said it wanted both domestic and overseas operators to compete in the sector, seen as having major growth potential in a country where mobile phones are the preserve of a tiny proportion of the population.

The ministry said in a notice on its website the aim was to "make the available to the public at affordable prices, and to give the public the capability of choice".

The move is part of a plan to expand telephone penetration to between 75 and 80 percent by 2016, from the current level of around 10 percent.

Htay Win, chief engineer from the ministry's mobile department, told AFP the tender was open to foreign firms because "their experience in other countries means they are more capable".

Communications are seen as a key obstacle to development in , one of the world's . Mobile SIM cards cost from around $250 while the Internet is mainly the preserve of the urban elite.

Analyst Sachin Gupta, of Asian telecoms research at Nomura, said the target could be achieved if the terms and partners were right, but that the "devil will be in the detail".

"Given the lack of infrastructure in the country, this will be an uphill battle, but upside could be significant too," he said.

Companies are hungrily eyeing Myanmar after a number of international sanctions were eased or lifted in response to under a quasi-civilian government that took power in 2011.

Changes aimed at invigorating an economy ravaged by decades of military rule and have also been set in motion, including unifying the country's multiple exchange rates and passing a law to help smoothe foreign investment.

In a report in March Nomura called Myanmar "one of the last untapped telco markets in the region".

On Monday Taiwan's leading smartphone maker HTC opened its first store in Myanmar to sell handsets with Burmese-language characters.

Explore further: Making smartphone browsing 20% faster while reducing power consumption by 40%

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Myanmar aims to bring mobile and Internet to masses

Jul 10, 2012

Myanmar fired the starting gun in the process of liberalising its communications networks in a move that could finally bring mobile and Internet access to the masses and drive international investment.

Myanmar mulling satellite launch: Japan company

Sep 13, 2012

Myanmar is looking at launching a small Earth-observation satellite with Japanese aid, a company official said Thursday, as the country comes in from the cold after decades of isolation.

Recommended for you

Microsoft beefs up security protection in Windows 10

12 hours ago

What Microsoft users in business care deeply about—-a system architecture that supports efforts to get their work done efficiently; a work-centric menu to quickly access projects rather than weather readings ...

US official: Auto safety agency under review

Oct 24, 2014

Transportation officials are reviewing the "safety culture" of the U.S. agency that oversees auto recalls, a senior Obama administration official said Friday. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has been criticized ...

Out-of-patience investors sell off Amazon

Oct 24, 2014

Amazon has long acted like an ideal customer on its own website: a freewheeling big spender with no worries about balancing a checkbook. Investors confident in founder and CEO Jeff Bezos' invest-and-expand ...

Ebola.com domain sold for big payout

Oct 24, 2014

The owners of the website Ebola.com have scored a big payday with the outbreak of the epidemic, selling the domain for more than $200,000 in cash and stock.

Hacker gets prison for cyberattack stealing $9.4M

Oct 24, 2014

An Estonian man who pleaded guilty to orchestrating a 2008 cyberattack on a credit card processing company that enabled hackers to steal $9.4 million has been sentenced to 11 years in prison by a federal judge in Atlanta.

Magic Leap moves beyond older lines of VR

Oct 24, 2014

Two messages from Magic Leap: Most of us know that a world with dragons and unicorns, elves and fairies is just a better world. The other message: Technology can be mindboggingly awesome. When the two ...

User comments : 0