China Mobile and Vodafone join Myanmar telecoms race

China Mobile and Vodafone have signed an agreement to form a consortium to bid for a mobile telecommunications licence in Myanmar/Burma.

Myanmar, which hopes to place mobile phones into the hands of between 75 percent and 80 percent of its 60 million citizens by 2016, has the world's largest untapped telecoms market and it is about to enter a period of rapid structural expansion as the reformist government seeks to increase the number of mobile operators from two to four while taking measures to encourage and support the development of mobile network infrastructure across the country.

"With a comparatively young and highly literate population of around 60 million, a GDP growth rate of 5.5 percent per annum and mobile phone penetration currently below 10 percent – significantly lower than in many other emerging economies – Myanmar will be an important new market for the global mobile industry," Vodafone said in a statement. "The licensing round is also an opportunity to accelerate the pace of Myanmar's social and economic development through mass-market adoption of mobile services, similar to the mobile-led transformation underway within many other Asian and African countries."
The two new licences will authorise the licence holders to build, own and operate a mobile network on a nationwide basis for an initial term of 15 years.

Vodafone owned a small stake in China Mobile until 2010, and the two groups have maintained their relationship in areas such as international calls.

A shortlist will be announced later this month and on 27 June two winning foreign ventures will be invited to join Burma's two domestic networks in offering services.

Other bidders include France's Orange, Singapore Telecommunications, Telkom Indonesia, Qatar Telecom and Norway's Telenor.

Image: © Getty

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