Fourth telco licence just weeks away
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.