• July 31st, 2013
  • Darren Kingman

Monk using a smartphoneMyanmar is one of the last remaining untapped markets for telecoms companies operating in Asia. We reported in January 2013 about the impending boom set to hit Myanmar’s telecoms industry, and this is now well and truly up and running.

Two networks were selected after the auctions to spearhead the countries drive in becoming modernised and able to operate as part of the global economy. Those networks were Qatari state-owned Ooredoo and Norwegian based Telenor. These companies were handed the licensing laws to the countries telecoms spectrum, allowing them to expand both 3G and 4G services.

Currently, the number of mobile subscription is just 9% of the overall population. In comparison, neighbouring Thailand has a mobile subscription of 110%. With between 55 – 60 million people currently living in Myanmar, the potential for growth is huge. As part of the agreement for Ooredoo and Telenor to operate their services, they have agreed to raise subscription levels to 85% within 5 years.

It was always going to be hard to put a figure on the value of the Myanmar telecoms market, but it already appears that Ooredoo seem confident that they will more than recoup their expected $15 billion investment, as they’ve planned to open 240,000 SIM card purchase points, with a massive 720,000 top-up locations. The majority of these will be already opened and running shops who will provide services on their behalf. In contrast and possibly attempting to utilise a more “online” focused service, Telenor plan just 70,000 SIM card points and 95,000 top up locations.

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