Jun 17, 2013

Myanmar to invite bids for additional telecom licences

Need for 15,000 telecom towers, thousands of kilometres of fibre optic infrastructure in country, says report.

Enthused by bidder response for two telecom permits, Myanmar plans to invite participation for providing Internet services and building a national fibre optic network.

Telecommunications in the country is currently the preserve of Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, and Internet services are provided by Yatanarpon Teleport. Myanmar has 14,000km of fibre and some 1,800 telecom masts.

“There are lots of opportunities in Myanmar’s telecom sector. While we have called for tenders for the two telecom licences, our plan is to invite participation for providing Internet services,” Thaung Tin, deputy minister for communications and information technology, said in an interview. “Also, there is a huge requirement of fibre roll-out, for which we plan to call the tenders after the award of the telecom licences.”

There is a need for 15,000 telecom towers and thousands of kilometres of fibre optic infrastructure in the country, according to a Deloitte report on Myanmar’s telecommunications sector.

Myanmar’s transition to democracy has helped ease Western sanctions and it urgently needs to deploy information and communications technologies to end its isolation.
Myanmar is one of the last countries to open up its telecom sector. Less than 10%, or 5.4 million of its 60 million population, have a phone subscription. Its government has set a target of connecting 75-80% of the people by 2015-16. Less than 1% of its population has access to the Internet.

“Awarding these telecom licences is a priority. Since there was limited spectrum, we are currently looking at awarding only two licences,” Thaung Tin said. “However, going forward we plan to award more licences to increase competition.”

As many as 11 consortia, including India’s largest telecom services provider Bharti Airtel Ltd, have submitted bids for two telecom permits. The winners will be announced on 27 June.

The other bidders include Axiata Group Bhd, Digicel, France Telecom SA, KDDI Corp., Millicom International Cellular SA, Qatar Telecom QSC, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Telenor ASA and Viettel Group. A Vodafone Group Plc and China Mobile Ltd combine chose not to bid in the final round. A total of 91 expressions of interest were submitted.

“We will award the licences to the selected winners on 27 June,” said U Soe Thane, minister in the office of Myanmar’s President Thein Sein.

Myanmar needs $650 billion of investment by 2030 to support economic growth, according to a report by consulting firm McKinsey and Co. Of this, $320 billion is required in infrastructure, including $45-50 billion in telecommunication.

To reassure foreign investors, Myanmar has promised to set up an independent telecom watchdog.

Source: HT Media