Myanmars telecommunications regulator expects
special orders allowing domestic companies to provide telecom
services to be issued before a proposed new telecommunications
law is enacted.
Myanmars Post & Telecommunications
Department (PTD) this week revealed the countrys outdated
telecommunications market was set to open up to foreign
a new lawwhich will see four new telecom
licenses awarded to both domestic and foreign operators.
Foreign companies were previously prohibited from holding such
licenses in the country.
PTD deputy director Than Htun Aung told IFLR he did
not expect the law to come into effect for up to six months to
one year as it first required approval from the countrys
attorney general, as well the Myanmar cabinet and
But he said the government could allow local entrants into
the market before the law became effective by way of
notification and special orders to provide telecom services in
It is difficult to say when and how this will happen,
but it could be as soon as tomorrow, he said.
The new law would treat domestic and foreign operators the
same, he said. But the license approval process will differ
with domestic operator licenses subject to ministerial approval
and foreign operator licenses subject to both ministerial and
The license selection criteria would be based on the
availability of resources, such as mobile frequency, amount of
investment capital and the effect an operator will have on the
country and people, he said. He stressed no region would be
given preferential status.
A number of well-known global operators had already
expressed interest in applying for a license in the country, he
Were not really concerned that our legal system
or lack of infrastructure will deter foreign operators,
he said. We have already seen a lot of interest from
global players as well as ASEAN and Asian operators.
We try to have a strong legal system to protect the
operators as well as consumers, he added.
The plans to issue a new
telecoms law was first highlighted in
a research report published by Nomura Securities last week.
The note, the first Myanmar research note to be issued by a
major investment bank, said the telecom sector in
Myanmar was likely to be on the radar of most Telcos for
With around 60
million people and only 4% wireless penetration and 3% fixed,
Myanmar is one of the last untapped telco markets in the
region, it read.
The notes author, Nomura
Securities managing director and Asian telecoms
research head Sachin Gupta told IFLR the domestic appetite
for investment in Myanmars telecom was uncertain. But
Middle East and Asian operators had been keen to invest in the
country from some time.
Singapore Telecommunications and Axiata were listed in the
report as stocks to watch.
SingTel already has a strong presence in many
countries in the region and would therefore be well placed to
connect Myanmar with its regional market infrastructure
quickly, he said.
Both SingTel and Axiatas management teams and
board strategies favour investment in low-penetration,
high-growth markets, he said. Myanmar ticks that
He warned, however, that entrants might have to be willing
to quickly invest in the countrys infrastructure. But he
expected first-movers to be well rewarded.
It is very hard to justify more than two or three
telecom operators being able to build a viable business over
the long term in Myanmar, he said. GDP per capita
is quite low in the country which lowers the potential customer
basis. Those first in will be able to tap into Myanmars
Reform of the sector should go hand-in-hand with the
countrys economic reforms, he said, and should create
tremendous opportunities. But timing was currently the biggest
Than Htun Aung said the new law will introduce competition
to the sector which would be beneficial for both the nation and