Published on Thursday, 11 July 2013 21:50
Myanmar's government plans to increase the percentage of mobile phone users to 80 percent by 2015, according to a message President Thein Sein sent to parliament on July 8.
“Currently, only 7.08 percent of the Myanmar's 60 million population have access to mobile phones. Therefore, we are implementing a plan to increase the telephone density to 22.8 percent in the fiscal year 2013-14, 50 percent in 2014-15, and between 75 and 80 percent in 2015-16,” the President’s message read.
On June 27, Norway's Telenor and Qatar's Ooredoo became the first foreign companies to be granted mobile operating licenses in Myanmar, one of the world’s last telecom frontiers.
They defeated nine other finalists in a competitive government bid, including Singapore Telecommunications, India’s Bharti Airtel, Japan’s KDDI, Vietnam's Viettel, and Caribbean provider Digicel.
The 15-year license winners are required to provide voice services across 75 percent of the country and data services across 50 percent of the country within five years. Myanmar currently lacks basic telecom infrastructure to support a nation-wide coverage.
Deputy Minister for Communications and Information, Thaung Tin has said that the two licence holders must pay a compensation of US$ 200 million should they fail to live up to their initial investment promises.
"They will have to put down US$ 200 million, this is called a 'performance bond' and we will only issue the licenses after that amount has been paid. If they fail to live up to what they said, we will deduct penalty from US$ 200 million,” said the Deputy Minister at a press conference on Wednesday.
A joint venture of France Telecom and Japan's Marubeni Communications has been named as reserve company should the selected companies fail to meet the targets.
Meanwhile, a Telecommunications Bill aimed at defining and regulating the telecom sector, is still going through parliament in Nay Pyi Taw. It is expected to be signed into law in coming months.
Norwegian State-controlled Telenor, which has 150 million customers worldwide, said it would possibly launch the networks next year and achieve the nationwide coverage within five years.
Qatari Ooredoo has promised to invest a total of US$15 billion in Myanmar, which will become its second largest market next to Indonesia.
Both companies will also be competing with two government-owned telecom entities who currently dominate the mobile market.
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