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: Studying the speed of multi-hop Bluetooth networks

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

End to end 5G for super, superfast mobile

Nov 24, 2014

A collaboration between NEC Electronics Samsung and several academic centres in China and Iran, is investigating how software-defined cellular networking might be used to give smart phone users the next generation of super-superfast ...

German study supports free "Super WiFi"

Nov 24, 2014

The need for the wireless transfer of data will increase significantly in the coming years. Scientists at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT) therefore propose to turn some of the TV frequencies that ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.