Jul 26, 2013

Telenor aims for strong presence in Myanmar telecom market

Norway's Telenor group is counting on the competence of its executives, outsourcing, and planned local and global partnerships to establish a strong presence in Myanmar's telecom market.

One of its experienced executives is Petter Furberg, who was recently appointed chief executive officer of Telenor Myanmar, effective from when the company receives formal approval from that country's authorities. Furberg currently serves as chief financial officer of Thailand's Total Access Communication (DTAC), of which the Norwegian telecom group is a majority shareholder.

Furberg said Telenor Myanmar's long-term ambition was to become the market leader.

He added that the parent company had brought the best people in their fields to help Telenor Myanmar rapidly establish a modern telecommunications network and related services.

On June 27, the Myanmar government announced that Telenor Myanmar and Ooredoo, formerly known as Qatar Telecom, were the winners of mobile operating licences out of 11 finalists in the international bidding for two licences to build a nationwide mobile telecom network. The government is in talks with both firms on the final process of awarding the licences within 90 days after announcing their names.

Furberg said Telenor Myanmar would launch the service within eight to nine months after the official awarding of the licence. It aims to cover 60 per cent of the population in the first year before rising past 95 per cent within five years. The company plans to create more than 70,000 points of sale for SIM cards within five years. However, he declined to specify an investment plan. The licences allow both firms to utilise both 900-megahertz and 2.1-gigahertz spectra to provide service. Telenor Myanmar will start 2G service on 900-megahertz and 3G service on 2.1-gigahertz from Day 1. It plans to make the service affordable: The maximum SIM card price will be around 1,500 kyat (Bt49) and maximum voice charge will be around 25 kyat (80 satang) a minute.

All of the appointments of Telenor Myanmar's executive management team are pending approval from the government. The Norwegian parent appointed Tipayarat Kaewsringarm as chief people officer of Telenor Myanmar. Previously with DTAC, she has held a number of senior positions, including chief people officer. Lars Erik Tellmann has been appointed chief financial officer of Telenor Myanmar.

He was previously senior vice president of Telenor Asia supporting implementation of cross-border projects.

Prathet Tankuranun has been appointed chief technology officer. Formerly he was head of DTAC's network operation division overseeing the company's establishment of third-generation wireless broadband in Thailand. Sharad Mehrotra has been appointed chief marketing officer. Previously the head of Telenor Asia's distribution programme, he was responsible for achieving regional synergies and scale in all five of the firm's Asian operations.

Furberg said that at the initial stage Telenor Myanmar would leverage on local and global partners in many fields as well as outsourcing to establish the presence of its infrastructure, distribution network, and services.

He said competition in the telecom market would bring innovation and benefit to Myanmar consumers. He acknowledged there were some challenges, including poor infrastructure, especially the electricity supply, and the scattered population.