Fourth telco li­cence just weeks away

The Myanmar Times - - Business - AUNG KYAW NYUNT aungkyawnyunt@mm­times.com STEVE GIL­MORE s.gil­more@mm­times.com

MYAN­MAR’S fourth telco has a brand name and could have its li­cence within the next two months, ac­cord­ing to govern­ment of­fi­cials and peo­ple in­volved in the new firm.

The telco is a col­lab­o­ra­tion be­tween Hanoi-based tele­coms op­er­a­tor Vi­et­tel, a con­sor­tium of 11 lo­cal firms called Myan­mar Na­tional Tele­com Hold­ing Pub­lic, and a sub­sidiary of mil­i­tary-run Myan­mar Eco­nomic Corporation called Star High Pub­lic Com­pany.

Vi­et­tel, which is owned by Viet­nam’s de­fence min­istry, was granted the right to ne­go­ti­ate with the con­sor­tium and Star High Pub­lic ear­lier this year, af­ter win­ning a ten­der is­sued at the end of 2015.

Talks dragged on longer than a pro­posed time­line from the joint-ven­ture for­ma­tion com­mit­tee had sug­gested they would. But U Zaw Min Oo, a di­rec­tor of Myan­mar Tech­nolo­gies and In­vest­ment Corporation – one of the 11 lo­cal firms – said that the con­sor­tium had for­mally signed with Vi­et­tel and Star High Pub­lic to form the fourth telco last month.

Min­istry of Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and Transport di­rec­tor U Than Htun Aung con­firmed the sign­ing.

Vi­et­tel owns 49 per­cent of the new en­tity and the Myan­mar part­ners the other 51pc, said U Zaw Min Oo. Se­nior man­age­ment po­si­tions have been filled, with a Vi­et­tel of­fi­cial tak­ing the chief ex­ec­u­tive po­si­tion, he added.

Sources fa­mil­iar with the ne­go­ti­a­tions told The Myan­mar Times in July that de­ci­sion mak­ing and the CEO’s role were among the stick­ing points that held up the joint ven­ture talks.

In re­sponse to ques­tions, Le Thu Hong, a con­sul­tant in Vi­et­tel’s pub­lic re­la­tions depart­ment, said that “de­tails are still un­der ne­go­ti­a­tion and we are con­tin­u­ing to com­plete li­cens­ing pro­ce­dures”.

U Zaw Min Oo said the new firm would only start op­er­a­tions in 2017 and was still en­gaged in the ap­pli­ca­tion process. “We al­ready have a brand name but we don’t want to dis­close it,” he added. “We plan to hold a press con­fer­ence very soon.”

U Soe Naing, di­rec­tor of the min­istry’s Posts and Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions Depart­ment, told The Myan­mar Times that the fourth telco’s li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion would be “done in two months if ev­ery­thing goes smoothly”.

The new telco will face stiff com­pe­ti­tion from state-owned in­cum­bent MPT, and es­tab­lished for­eign firms Te­lenor and Oore­doo. MPT has over 20 mil­lion cus­tomers, Te­lenor 17 mil­lion and Oore­doo over 8 mil­lion.

But govern­ment share­holder Star High Pub­lic Com­pany has ac­cess to 1000 tow­ers and more than 13,000 kilo­me­tres of fi­bre, as pre­vi­ously re­ported by The Myan­mar Times. Par­ent firm Myan­mar Eco­nomic Corporation also owns the mar­ket’s cur­rent, unofficial fourth op­er­a­tor, MECTel.

U Than Htun Aung said the fourth telco could only start build­ing ad­di­tional tow­ers and in­fra­struc­ture when the li­cence was for­mally awarded.

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