Myanmar, having completed the “big bang,” initial reforms is in the process of establishing a regulatory agency to be known as the Myanmar Communication Commission (MCC). Due to years of enforced isolation from the world and neglect of education, Myanmar suffers from severe constraints in terms of skilled personnel. Having already achieved good results by learning from the experience with previous reforms, the government may benefit from learning from the experiences in the design of regulatory agencies and the conduct of ex-ante, sector-specific regulation. From desk research and questionnaires administered to informed respondents, this paper assembles relevant evidence from National Regulatory Agencies (NRAs) in member states of the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) of which Myanmar is a member. In addition, the paper identifies negative aspects of conventional solutions and suggests ways to address them.
When I was last in Myanmar, 3G was said to be available, people had smartphones, but congestion made connecting a challenge. It appears the operators are responding. According to Takashi Nagashima, CEO of MPT-KDDI-Sumitomo joint operations, the network improvement plan kicked off on November 6. The capacity of congested 3G sites in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw was expanded. Capacity of those sites is now about 50 per cent higher than before November 6.
In the larger scheme of things, telecom reforms are easy. But they involve technical expertise and are likely to result in terrible errors like Timor Leste’s multi-decade monopoly, Thailand’s concession contracts, Bangladesh’s fixed licenses, and so on, as we pointed out. The Reuters report provides a good overview of the challenges facing reformers in Myanmar. As Myanmar opens up after almost 50 years of army rule, and foreign investors descend on the resource-rich country of 60 million, its long-isolated institutions are struggling to keep up, raising the risk of a policy misstep that could wreck stability in this nascent democracy. The pace of change, already frenetic, looks set to accelerate after President Thein Sein announced on June 19 a second phase of reforms.