Qatari firm vows 'affordable' mobile access for Myanmar

August 16, 2013
Ooredoo executive Ross Cormack speaks to the media during a press conference in Yangon, on August 16, 2013. The Qatari telecoms giant has pledged to introduce "affordable" phone services to Myanmar next year as it pumps $15 billion into one of the world's few remaining frontier mobile markets.

Qatari telecoms giant Ooredoo on Friday pledged to introduce "affordable" phone services to Myanmar next year as it pumps $15 billion into one of the world's few remaining frontier mobile markets.

The firm, which in June along with Norway's Telenor won bids to provide to a nation where less than 10 percent of the population has telephone access, should be formally awarded its 15-year 3G licence by the end of this year.

It will then start to roll out its —including and for farmers—within six months, a company executive told reporters in Yangon.

"People can use Ooredoo's services next year... we need to build quickly, not only in cities but also in ," Ross Cormack said.

Few in Myanmar can currently afford mobile phones and SIM card fees, which in the past cost about $200, although the government is now trying to make prices more affordable.

Asked how calls will be priced—in a country where about a quarter of the population live below the national poverty line—Cormack said: "I can't say exactly but you will find it attractive and affordable."

In a statement in July Myanmar's government said Ooredoo had "committed" to selling SIM cards for about $1.5 and to charging roughly four cents for off-peak calls.

"We will deliver SIM cards and all the services at every road-side store and to villages," Cormack said, adding up to 97 percent of Myanmar's 60 million people will have access to his company's services within five years.

Mobile coverage in the former junta-ruled nation is extremely limited, with less than 10 percent of the population enjoying access to a telephone.

The company, formerly known as QTel, will invest in selling its services at tens of thousands of outlets across the country, it said, with a focus on add-ons including transfers and providing market prices, weather updates and equipment rental costs to help farmers in remote areas.

Valid for 15 years, the licences are the first to be awarded by the formerly junta-ruled nation, and will see the two foreign firms enter a market once monopolised by a pair of state companies.

Explore further: Myanmar aims to bring mobile and Internet to masses

Related Stories

Myanmar aims to bring mobile and Internet to masses

July 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.

Google chairman Eric Schmidt to visit Myanmar

March 16, 2013

Google chairman Eric Schmidt will visit Myanmar next week, highlighting increasing Internet freedom in the former pariah state just weeks after a controversial trip to communist North Korea.

22 bidders join Myanmar mobile telephone battle

April 5, 2013

Vodafone, China Mobile and an investment fund linked to billionaire George Soros are among 22 bidders vying to enter Myanmar, one of the world's last unexplored mobile telephone frontiers.

Myanmar's telecom race enters final stretch

June 26, 2013

(AP)—Foreign companies will tap into one of the world's final telecom frontiers Thursday when Myanmar hands out licenses to operate two new mobile phone networks—part of efforts by the long-isolated nation to use technology ...

Recommended for you

The ethics of robot love

November 25, 2015

There was to have been a conference in Malaysia last week called Love and Sex with Robots but it was cancelled. Malaysian police branded it "illegal" and "ridiculous". "There is nothing scientific about sex with robots," ...

Nevada researchers trying to turn roadside weed into biofuel

November 26, 2015

Three decades ago, a University of Nevada researcher who obtained one of the first U.S. Energy Department grants to study the potential to turn plants into biofuels became convinced that a roadside weed—curly top gumweed—was ...


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.