Chinese State, US Billionaire, Irish Tycoon in Telecoms Bid


Come Thursday, we’ll know whether O’Brien’s background impressed the Naypyitaw government more than the stolid, faceless managers of China Mobile.

A woman waits for customers at a “public call office” in Yangon on May 27, 2012. Just a few million out of Myanmar’s 50-plus million population have mobile phones and access to an as-yet extremely limited system

The biggest and most colorful collection of telecommunications companies assembled in years is waiting for the decision bell to ring in Naypyitaw this week on one of the world’s last untapped mobile phone markets.

Twelve international telecom businesses and consortia are on a government shortlist, out of which only two will be awarded contracts to build networks for potentially more than 50 million new telephone customers.

The decision on Thursday will pave the way to propelling Myanmar into the 21st century, at least in telecommunications terms.

Just a few million out of Myanmar’s 50-plus million population have mobile phones and access to an as-yet extremely limited system.

After years of tightly restricted mobile phone ownership through extortionate prices, the government of President U Thein Sein wants wireless telecommunications to be available to up to 80 percent of the population by 2016.

Some of the world’s biggest telephone network companies and some of the most obscure are on the short list, whittled down from about 90 firms.

They are China Mobile Limited and Vodafone Group in a partnership; Singapore Telecommunications; Bharti Airtel of India; MTN from Dubai; the Irish-owned Digicel Group; KDDI Corporation of Japan; Sumitomo Corporation, also from Japan; Malaysia’s Axiata Group; Telenor of Norway; Millicom International Cellular of Luxembourg; Qatar Telecom; and Vietnam’s Viettel Group.

The world’s two biggest mobile phone service operators, China Mobile and Vodafone, have 1.14 billion subscribers globally between them. They have teamed up to make the most powerful bid.

But probably the most colorful is the joint venture put together by the small Digicel, which operates mostly among the small Caribbean islands, although it is owned by an entrepreneur from Ireland.

Digicel’s joint venture partners in the license bid are Quantum Strategic Partners, owned by American billionaire speculator George Soros, and Myanmar’s Yoma Strategic Holdings, owned by noted Rangoon businessman U Serge Pun.

“The challenge for the winners will be recovering the cost of building and maintaining mobile phone networks in one of Asia’s very poorest countries,” said an industry executive with a large Bangkok-based phone company who spoke on condition of anonymity.

“Burmese are just about the lowest paid people in the region and so although the price of SIM cards and phones has become more universally affordable in recent months, the unanswered question is how will these people pay for phone services?”

SIM card prices have plummeted dramatically from US $250 just over a year ago to a mere $1.70 today. But they are not yet widely available. About 350,000 cards were issued in April, many on a lottery basis, and similar numbers will be issued in the coming months.

Can the chosen network franchise holders recoup their investment?

“The opportunity is tremendous, but not without risk,” Nomura Securities’ chief of Asian telecoms Sachin Gupta told Bloomberg. “There are 60 million users potentially, but that needs a lot of network investment.”

Other foreign telecommunications companies are waiting in the wings to offer ancillary services once the network licenses are issued.

Avaya of the US, which specializes in video conferencing and data networking, has teamed up with local firm First Myanmar, which is also in U Serge Pun’s business stable.

“We believe that we are uniquely positioned to offer affordable first-class communications to the people of Myanmar and are looking forward to having the opportunity to do so,” Digicel owner Denis O’Brien told the Irish Independent, which he also owns.

Unlike some of the other bidders which have kept a profile as they quietly lobby behind the scenes to promote their credentials to government ministers and officials, Digicel has pursued a high-profile public image in support of their bid.

The Jamaica-based firm, ranked only 65th in customer size in the global telecoms market, has been sponsoring Myanmar sport, promoting brand awareness among people who don’t yet even have a phone, and surveying sites for transmission aerials across the country.

“The low mobile penetration rate in [Myanmar] presents a significant opportunity for telecoms firms, but the Digicel consortium will face some stiff competition for licenses,” commented the Irish Independent newspaper, pointing out that O’Brien’s telecommunications forays into the Caribbean islands in the past 10 years have made his fortune.

Not bad for someone who started out on his business career selling horse medicines for his father.

The Digicel joint venture is up against the might of the world’s biggest mobile phone service operator, China Mobile, a state-owned enterprise with 97 percent of the colossal Chinese market and over 700 million customers. But perhaps the recent backlash against China’s strong business influence in Myanmar will influence bid decision-making.

Come Thursday, we’ll know whether O’Brien’s background impressed the Naypyitaw government more than the stolid, faceless managers of China Mobile.

via Chinese State, US Billionaire, Irish Tycoon in Telecoms Bid | The Irrawaddy Magazine.

Advertisements

About Old Boy

Love the past and the future but live in the present

Posted on June 26, 2013, in buisiness, Government, technology and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

The Essence Within

Silently, the grass grows.

FLOW ART STATION

THE CONTEMPORARY MAGAZINE

21st Century Films

Film Analysis, Essays, and Short Stories

swo8

Music means something

Discobar Bizar

Welkom op de blog van Discobar Bizar. Druk gerust wat op de andere knoppen ook, of lees het aangrijpende verhaal van Hurricane Willem nu je hier bent. Welcome to the blog of Discobar Bizar, feel free to push some of the other buttons, or to read the gripping story of Hurricane Willem whilst you are here!

Playing by My Own Rules

Cancer Messed with the Wrong Hellion

manologo

pienso y recuerdo...luego, existo

When the Whippoorwill sings

Queer Supernatural Romance and Horror Erotica

Noellie's Place

Life is brutal at times but always offers beauty and love to soften the blows if you open your hearts eye

After Credits Corner

There's a million films I haven't seen. Just you wait...

Reel Time Flicks

Film reviews and news, everyone's a critic! Welcome to the drinking blog with a film problem.

Baz Allen

Archive

Silents, Please!

interesting avenues in silent film history

Superduque

Mi patria es todo el mundo.

WRITE THEM ALL.

THOUGHTS. FEELINGS. MEMORIES.

Budget Traveler

Travel Guide, Blog & Reviews

The Conglomerate Lode

Mining thoughts, opinions, and experiences that enter the eyes the front door to the grey matter

La Audacia de Aquiles

"El Mundo Visible es Sólo un Pretexto" / "The Visible World is Just a Pretext".-

CINESPIRIA

Shining a light on the deep recesses of film history

Dr. Grob's Animation Review

The animation film review site

Genç Yazarlar Kulübü

Edebiyat burda, kahve tadında.

Alfred Eaker's The BlueMahler

Alfred Eaker's art (painting & film), reviews and essays. BlueMahler is a performance art character first created by Eaker at the John Herron School of Art in the early 1980s.

Master Mix Movies

One Movie at a Time

Jason's Movie Blog

A Movie Blog for the Latest Movie Reviews, Trailers, and More

Purple Pants

Presenting Life Delicacies with a Pinch of Salt

La Page @Mélie

Contre le blues, le meilleur remède, c'est le rock...!

simple Ula

I want to be rich. Rich in love, rich in health, rich in laughter, rich in adventure and rich in knowledge. You?

I didn't have my glasses on....

A trip through life with fingers crossed and eternal optimism.

Prestridge²

Independent journalism on the things we love - money, film and the arts

smithartonline

Art, education and ruminations

Exclusivito

Confessions of a book-traveller

Kitchen Scenes

Performance Art Based Video & Film

My Life as an Artist (2)

Smile! You’re at the best WordPress.com site ever

Paperback Cinema

Never judge a book by its movie.

CURNBLOG

Movies, thoughts, thoughts about movies.

Widdershins Worlds

WRITING LESBIAN FICTION, SCIENCE FICTION, AND FANTASY, SINCE THE 20TH CENTURY

SKYLINE REPORTS

comedy magazine

Flicks and Pieces

Film & TV Reviews, News & Musings

MovieBabble

The Casual Way to Discuss Movies

seriesdefilms

Pour ceux qui se font des films en séries!

Plain, Simple Tom Reviews

Musings on film and TV, old and new.

Rarest Kind of Best

Talking about children's books and films. Useful information for parents.

Outspoken and Freckled

Kellee writes about classic & modern film, retro TV... and life's adventures, with a sassy Irish passion.

%d bloggers like this: