Military dominates Myanmar’s fourth telecom licence

Military dominates Myanmar’s fourth telecom licence

The military authorities of Vietnam and Myanmar will own a dominant 77% of Myanmar’s fourth mobile operator, which has just won the country’s last planned licence.

Vietnam’s Viettel – wholly owned by the country’s Ministry of Defence – will own 49% of Myanmar National Tele & Communications (MNTC). Star High Public Company, which has another 28%, is owned by the Myanmar army via a holding company, Myanmar Economic Corporation.

Myanmar’s army ran the country’s government for most of the last 60 years – and organised a coup in 1962 – until the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won the first free elections in decades in 2016.

More information about the planned launch is expected tomorrow, Saturday, when MNTC is due to hold a press conference.

The minister for transport and communications, Thant Sin Maung, was quoted by Reuters as saying the operator “will help advance telecommunication in townships, rural mountain towns and will contribute to improving transportation, healthcare and education necessary for the people living in rural areas”.

It was widely rumoured at the beginning of 2017 that the Viettel bid would win the licence, but the minister has now officially signed the contract with MNTC. The whole process has taken over a year.

The new company, which now has a 15-year licence, will compete with Ooredoo and Telenor, which won the first commercial licences in the former Burma and began services in 2014. Ooredoo paid $1 billion for its licence and Telenor $500 million. It is believed that MNTC is paying $300 million.

The country’s third operator was state-owned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, which has a joint venture with KDDI of Japan.

The Myanmar Times quoted U Zaw Min Oo, chief external relations officer of MNTC, saying that the telco could start issuing SIM cards later this year, but that it will not launch services until 2018. He added: “We will do our best in this market, and we will try to ensure our communication networks reaches 95% of the population.

Viettel has said it plans to invest $1.5 billion in MNTC. The third and smallest shareholder in the new licensee, with 23%, is Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public, which represents 11 local companies. 

Viettel has a number of mobile investments worldwide, including Cambodia, Peru and Tanzania.

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