And the winner will be the one who can deliver the biggest brown envelope
I am putting my money on Digicel to get a license
Competition has intensified between the remaining telecom companies who are competing for a lucrative license to operate in Myanmar. Many have recently announced how much they intend to spend should they win the bid and are busy advertising their services in local media.
“We have more than 195 million users in 22 countries. The selection committee will see that we can provide an important service in Myanmar if they review our proposal and background history. Some countries we have worked with are rather similar to the Myanmar communication market,” said Mr. Simphiwe Cele, General Manager at MTN, one of the contending companies.
Another contender, Digicel has said they plan to invest US$9 billion if they win the license while France Telecom Orange has announced that they plan to invest US$1 billion in installing communication towers. Upping the stakes, Ooredoo, formerly known as Qtel, has said they would invest US$15 billion to expand their telecommunication services across Myanmar.
Most companies acknowledge that they will have to spend a large amount on infrastructure as Myanmar currently lags behind its ASEAN neighbours in the mobile phone market due to the restrictions placed on telecom communication by the military government in the past. Less than 10 percent of the population currently use mobile phones and experts predict that the market has potential to grow rapidly in coming years.
The Norway based Telenor said they are confident about winning the operator license because they have 35 percent of market shares in Thailand which is a comparable with market in Myanmar. They believe that they have enough experience to win the license.
Many Myanmar citizens are hoping that services provided by the mobile providers will be better if the competition between the companies is intensified. Eleven overseas telecommunication companies are currently waiting for the government to announce the two remaining operator licenses. The announcement is expected on June 27.
Digicel have been quietly angling for a license in Myanmar since early 2010, back in the days when Aung San Suu Kyi was still shut in and the junta was jailing people for dissent. Since then, up to a dozen Digicel officials have been staying at the luxury hotel and working out of an unmarked office in Yangon’s Sakura Tower. They are reportedly providing technical assistance to MPT and even sponsoring a local soccer team—an attempt, says a Yangon-based former consultant to the company, to get into the same room with regime cronies and government officials.
Well now we know as of the 3rs Feb Digicel Group has officially thrown its hat in the ring to be considered for a telecommunications licence in Myanmar, formerly known as Burma. The company said that it submitted its expression of interest in a bidding process, which is expected to yield two new licenced operators within the next five months.
What the selection committee will use to decide who gets the licences are still not clear, but the country will require the winners of the two nationwide telecommunications licences to “meet or exceed specified population and geographic coverage targets”.
What is clear to me is Myanmar is one of the most corrupt countries in the world and to do business in that country you must grease some palms.
However if short on manpower he can always call on Bert the Drumcondra drunk for assistance or else get the Bonox to lobby Amnasty International and Suu Kyi, to help him out with a slice of the cake….
Singapore’s SingTel, Norway’s Telenor, Malaysia’s Axiata Bharti, and India’s Airtel are also named among the bidders.