Here’s a lesson in Myanmar efficiency for foreign companies thinking about expanding into the Southeast Asian country: Qatar’s Ooredoo can finally begin to roll out its telecom network this week, after having won the tender license last June.
Ooredoo along with fellow tender winner Telenor from Norway, were supposed to receive formal licensing in September. Ooredoo had pledged in August that it will introduce affordable phone services to Myanmar in the beginning of this year. That pledge is of course not likely to be fulfilled, since the company will only be receiving the formal license this Thursday, according to the Irrawaddy, a Burmese newspaper.
The initial telecom license bidding war had attracted much international attention, and Ooredoo and Telenor were the envy of their losing competitors at the time, for having won the rights to develop telecom networks in one of the world’s least connected nations.
But it seems Myanmar is finally ready to hand over the license. A senior government official said that Ooredoo will be formally awarded the license at a ceremony in the Burmese capital of Naypyidaw on Thursday, after further delays while the government finished writing telecom regulations.
“The significance of this signing is it will pave the way for them to go ahead with their operation,” said the official, who asked not to be named as he was not authorized to speak to media, according to the Irrawaddy.
Telenor will have its own signing ceremony on Feb. 3, another government official who has also declined to be named same.
Despite the delay, it will be a major step forward for the disconnected nation when Ooredoo and Telenor begin to roll out their telecom networks. Until recently, SIM cards from military-controlled state telecom firms were sold for thousands of dollars, making them largely inaccessible to most citizens of the impoverished country.