TELECOMS & BRODACASTING
Telenor, the major shareholder in Thailand's Total Access Communication (DTAC), plans to ramp up its presence in Asia with heavy investment in Myanmar, which it terms "the last opportunity in the world" for the Norwegian firm.
Sigve Brekke, the head of Telenor Asia, said his company plans to flood Myanmar with strategic telecommunications infrastructure if it wins one of the mobile licences.
Telenor has drawn up a master plan to roll out cellular network coverage to "at least 75%" of the country within five years, he said, declining to give an exact figure.
Under a plan by the Myanmar government, voice network coverage will be required for 75% of the country and data network coverage at 50%.
Myanmar's telecom regulator has proposed a minimum reserve price of US$350 million for a 15-year mobile licence.
On June 27, Myanmar will announce the winners of two 15-year licences from among 12 pre-qualified applicants selected to bid including India's Bharti Airtel, Japan's KDDI Corporation, Vodafone, Singapore Telecommunications, Malaysia's Axiata Group and China Mobile as well as Telenor.
A total of 91 international companies and consortia expressed interest in tendering for the two mobile licences.
"We believe we have the best business plan coupled with strong experience in small mobile markets, the success of DTAC's Happy brand as well as our experience in efficient and low-cost markets such as India," said Mr Brekke.
Telenor pledged to have the network ready within one year, after which affordable both voice and data services would be offered.
Myanmar has much room for growth, said Mr Brekke, adding that a SIM card in that country today costs US$200.
The Myanmar government pegs mobile penetration at 9% or 5.44 million users, although the Swedish telecom giant Ericsson last year put the figure at less than 4%.
Mr Brekke pointed out that while Myanmar has set a goal of 80% mobile penetration by 2015, only 26% of the country has electricity.
Telenor has boosted its revenue by catching up with emerging markets in Asia, the group's largest revenue source, he said.
"Asia is our major growth driver and development," said Mr Brekke, adding that 45% of group revenue now comes from its five Asian operations in Asia, up from 33% in 2008.
About the author
- Writer: Srisamorn Phoosuphanusorn
Position: Deputy Business Editor