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Myanmar telecom thinking seems stuck in the 1980s

Reports are coming out about the Myanmar government’s plans for the telecom sector. Sadly, little seems to have been learned from the rich experience of the past two decades. Why otherwise would there be an interest in maintaining 51% ownership of the new operators? More interesting is the line about developing a national backbone. Are the rules for open access being drawn up?

The government will insist that telecommunication infrastructure must cover rural areas, while privatization won’t involve a big sell-off of government-run businesses, he said. The government will retain at least 51% ownership of any joint venture companies formed with private companies, he added.

Under Myanmar’s State-Owned Economic Enterprises Law, telecommunications is primarily a state-owned enterprise and the government has the sole right to provide the service. The country is in the final stages of drafting of a new telecom law that would allow private sector participation, he said.

Myanmar is also building a nation-wide fiber-optic “backbone” to improve mobile and data services across the country. The size of the nation’s fiber-optic network is now less than 1,000 kilometers, he said, but didn’t give details.

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