Norway’s Telenor and Qatari firm Ooredoo have won licenses for developing the mobile phone market of Myanmar. The two firms saw off much bigger rivals in the race for one of the world’s last untapped phone markets.
Norwegian telecommunications firm Telenor and Ooredoo from Qatar have been selected as the two successful applicants from 11 global consortiums. Those applicants had been short-listed to submit bids for Myanmar's mobile phone system, a government committee in charge of the public tender announced in Yangon on Thursday.
France's Telecom-Orange and Marubeni Corporation of Japan would be back-up options in the case that either of the two successful firms would fail to meet selection criteria, the committee said in a statement.
Under the deal, estimated to be worth about $2 billion (1.53 billion euros), Telenor and Ooredoo are charged with establishing a mobile phone infrastructure in the formerly junta-ruled Asian country, as well as operating the system for a period of 15 years initially. Myanmar has one of the lowest so-called connectivity rates in the world, as fewer than 10 percent of its 60 million citizens have access to a telephone.
Telenor and Ooredoo are contractually obliged to start operating a mobile phone network within nine months and connect one quarter of the population to mobile services within a year. By 2018, three-quarters of the country's citizens are planned to have access to the network.
After Myanmar's military rulers began opening up the country in 2011, the public tender was seen as a bellwether of economic reforms aimed at boosting foreign investment. The two winners from Norway and Qatar beat off fierce competition from 90 global companies and consortiums, including Singtel, Bharti Airtel and Digicel Group led by US billionaire investor George Soros.
uhe/dr (AFP, AP)