Myanmar will have commercial third-generation, or 3G, mobile service next year, when Telenor, one of the two winners of the country’s lucrative telecom licenses, rolls out its network. The Norwegian firm plans to complete the nationwide roll-out of 2G and 3G network within five years.
Telenor will also install 4G-ready base stations for Myanmar to match the sophistication of leading networks worldwide, said Glenn Mandelid, communications director of Telenor Asia, according to Bangkok Post, a Thai newspaper.
“A full range of mobile services, both 2G and 3G mobile data service, will be commercially launched next year,” he said, adding that telecom service would drive social development and economic growth in the country.
Last Thursday, the Myanmar government awarded the licenses to open its telecom market to Telenor and Qatari firm Ooredoo. The two companies beat out nearly 90 competitors in the bid for the 15-year mobile licenses.
As more than 90 percent of Myanmar’s 60 million population is without access to mobile phones or Internet, the country represents one of the last frontiers in the telecom sector.
Mandelid said Telenor’s exact investment figure for the mobile network installation will be settled after the Myanmar government finishes its final terms and conditions for the license, according to Bangkok Post.
“With our competence and experience from similar situations in other Asian markets, the group’s largest revenue source, we are confident of being able to roll out services that will benefit the people of Myanmar,” Mandelid added.
Telenor is the major shareholder of Total Access Communication, a popular Thai mobile operator, and has business in Malaysia, Bangladesh, India and Pakistan.
The company has extensive experience with prepaid packages, customer support and distribution.
“We aim to take the market leader position in Myanmar,” Mandelid said, according to Bangkok Post.
The other winner of the telecom bid, Ooredoo, based in Qatar, has not announced detailed plans for investment. Hours after the winners were posted, one of Myanmar’s leading radical Buddhist monks called for the boycotting of the company, because it is based in an Islamic country. There were also comments on the government’s Facebook page asking why it awarded the license to a company.
Many of Myanmar’s Buddhist majority have long harbored anti-Muslim sentiments, and in recent years there have been violent acts committed against its Muslim minority.
The Myanmar government has so far stood behind its decision to award the license to Ooredoo, but the Qatari company may have to be careful in rolling out its business in Myanmar, where there have been calls to boycott Muslim-owned businesses, as well as violence against Muslims.