Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/19/2014 -- Executive summary
Myanmar's restructured telecom sector: will it deliver the 'level playing field' for new operators?
Throughout 2012 and into 2013 major changes have been taking place in Myanmar's telecom sector. The government's plans to liberalise the market have certainly moved quickly. The initial round of reforms has seen action on the issuing of a series of new telecom operating licences, allowing international companies to form joint ventures with the government to build infrastructure and to offer services. The changes coincided with wider reforms being pursued by a government that had come to power in Myanmar in 2011 after many years of rule by the military. Among other things, the new government has announced some ambitious growth targets. Whilst it is generally agreed that the reform project had made a good start, by mid-2013 there remained much work to be done to bring the country's telecom sector up to speed.
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Over the last year or so, the international telecom community has shown unprecedented interest in this emerging market. The issuing of new mobile licences in mid-2013 took place as scheduled and saw two foreign players chosen to enter the market and help the country achieve its growth targets. These two companies have moved quickly into a post-tender phase where they began negotiating details of their respective concessions with the government and started planning their respective rollouts. In the meantime, as part of Myanmar's market reform, the state-owned incumbent telecom operator Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) is slated for 'dismantling';
this will probably see it as an operator working without government funding, most probably in joint venture with an experienced telecom partner.
In the meantime the country has many problems to address. It is still struggling with the legacy of those years spent under the military junta. The telecommunications sector has long been dominated by the state-owned monopoly telephone service provider. With the military government's conservative approach to structural reform, it was not surprising that MPT continued to maintain its monopoly over the telecom sector, long being the sole national telephone network operator. In another legacy consideration, the dispersion of network infrastructure has been heavily biased towards the cities, with Yangon and Mandalay having relatively large telephone penetrations compared to the rural areas. By 2012 most villages in Myanmar were still without a fixed-line telephone service.
For a long time, foreign investment in the telecom sector continued to be low, due to the political situation in Myanmar, the structure of the country's telecom industry and the general state of the economy, this also being despite the government's attempts to increase foreign interest. Of course, with the 2012 reforms this certainly looks as if it will change dramatically;
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