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Industry Overview: Myanmar Telecom Industry


A telecom turf battle is shaping up in Myanmar as more foreign companies are lining up to get a foothold in what experts say will be one of the country's most rapidly growing sectors. Myanmar has a population over 54 million and yet the statistics of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) show that the fixed telephone subscription rate, mobile cellular subscription rate and internet penetration rates of Myanmar are just nearly 1.26%, 1.24 % and 0.2% respectively. With these, Myanmar telecoms market is opening up for significant foreign investments. Most of the multinational firms, local companies and various investors would soon be rushing to invest in what is touted as the Asian frontier market.

The Myanmar Government is keen to promote the development of these untapped telecoms markets, and has set the targets of achieving a 50% wireless penetration rate by 2015, implying a 50% CAGR (compound annual growth rate). In its efforts to bring mobile and internet access to nearly 60 million people and to drive international investment, Myanmar has begun the process of liberalizing its communications networks. The existing telecom sector in Myanmar is a centralized operating system. The State-owned operator Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) controls the majority of subscribers on 2G and 3G networks, and Yatanarpon Teleport functions primarily as an Internet service provider (ISP). Since the government has decided to privatize this segment a lot of changes are taking place. 

Axiata, a Malaysian telecom firm, is one of the latest companies expressing interest, joining global players like Norwegian firm Telenor; Digicel, the largest mobile operator in the Caribbean; Vietnam's VNPT-Fujitsu; Russian heavyweight VimpelCom; and Sweden's TeliaSonera AB.  They have all expressed interest in four state telecom licences that will awarded, according to reports. Telecom suppliers like China's Huawei is positioning themselves as network suppliers and consultants, said a report on The Star website. The government has said that four telecom operating licences would be granted: two for Burmese companies and two for foreign firms with 4G services targeted as early as 2013.

The Irish entrepreneur and Digicel told 'The Myanmar Times' that the company had set its sights on a joint venture with MPT and was prepared to invest up to US$1.2 billion into developing the telecommunications network to build a world-class, future proofed mobile telecommunications infrastructure in Myanmar, which will make affordable telecommunications accessible to the people of Myanmar.

Myanmar telecom market has a stupendous future ahead with its low penetration and the hunger for going mobile in a virtually untapped country is acting as mouth-watering prospects for international telecoms firms. 


(Source: Insight Alpha)



International Telecommunication Union (ITU)