Telenor Mobile Communications of Norway and Qatar Telecom, which has changed its name to Ooredoo, have been awarded telecommunications licences by the Telecommunications Operator Tender Evaluation and Selection Committee to roll out and operate telecommunications networks in Myanmar.
Writer Ian Armitage
The news came on June 27 despite Myanmar's lower house voting a day earlier to delay the award until after the enactment of a new telecommunications law that is still making its way through parliament.
The tender attracted global interest from companies and consortia including Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Telenor AS, Bharti Airtel and Africa's MTN.
In a statement MTN said it was "disappointed" to have lost out but added that the country remained an attractive market and that it would review other options as they became available.
"In keeping with our strategy to continue exploring and evaluating suitable opportunities for further growth in developing countries, MTN still considers Myanmar an attractive market. To this end, we will review other options as they become available, and make a decision after the appropriate due consideration," it said.
The MTN Consortium, which included Myanmar-based Amara Communications and M1 Telecom Limited, had competed with 11 other bidders for the opportunity to develop the currently underdeveloped network in the nation.
Under the deal -- which according to some reports is estimated to be worth about $2 billion -- Telenor and Ooredoo will establish a mobile phone infrastructure in formerly junta-ruled Myanmar and then operate the system for a period of 15 years initially.
"We are delighted that Telenor is a winning bidder in what was a highly competitive telecommunications licence tender in Myanmar," said Jon Fredrik Baksaas, President and CEO of Telenor Group. "We thank the government for giving Telenor the opportunity to support the country in achieving its goals, and for the open and efficient bidding process. Myanmar will be an important pillar in our growth strategy and we are fully committed to responsibly leverage our group competencies to provide access to mobile communications services for the people of Myanmar. We now look forward to working with the authorities in Myanmar on the final steps in the licence process."
Sigve Brekke, Executive Vice President and the Head of Telenor Asia, said Telenor was "uniquely placed to support the development of a thriving and vibrant telecommunications sector in Myanmar".
"We have established leading mobile operations in five dynamic Asian markets and today's announcement underscores the continued success of Telenor's strategy of delivering accessible and affordable mobile communications services across the region," he said. "We are looking forward to working with the government and people of Myanmar in developing the country's telecommunication industry, a sector that will play a key role in Myanmar's socioeconomic development."
Telenor will build a state-of-the-art mobile network using HSPA and LTE-ready technologies to match the sophistication of leading networks around the world, and plans to achieve nationwide coverage within five years.
A full range of mobile services, both voice and data, will be commercially launched as the initial offering, anticipated to happen in 2014.
The introduction of telecommunication services in Myanmar will drive social development and economic growth for the country, Telenor said.
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