Ooredoo goes live in Myanmar

Qatari operator Ooredoo has launched telecoms services in Myanmar.

Ooredoo received official confirmation of its licence for the roll-out in January 2014, alongside rival Nordic operator Telenor, and the network is the first of its kind in the country.

At a press conference in Yangon, Myanmar, Ross Cormack – CEO at Ooredoo Myanmar – said: “This is history that we made here today.”

The network has been launched in three of Myanmar’s major cities, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon, and a commercial launch in further cities is expected later this month.

In a country with only 10% mobile penetration, the services are expected to cover 25 million of Myanmar’s approximately 60 million people by the end of the year, and 97% of the population within the next five years.

Until now, the country’s sole telecoms provider has been state-run Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), which announced a partnership with Japan’s KDDI last month in a bid to upgrade its offerings.

Norway's Telenor is expected to follow suit with a network launch in September this year, but some analysts believe that MPT may have the upper hand over its foreign rivals.

“As a locally-owned entity, MPT can roll out a network faster, at least in theory, because it can hold land without restrictions,” said Edwin Vanderbruggen of law firm VDB Loi, which has offices in Myanmar and neighbouring countries. “Foreign-owned companies have to jump through more hoops and that might slow things down.”

Last month, a group of Buddhist monks called for a boycott of Ooredoo’s services because of the company’s origin in Qatar, an Islamic nation.

Capacity held its first conference in Nay Pyi Taw, Myanmar, in September last year, and is set to hold the second event on September 16-17 2014.

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