It appears that ability to invest was a critical factor in the selection of Ooredoo and Telenor as the first foreign private licensees in the Myanmar telecom sector. Both have committed to low-price mobile services. Telenor has considerable experience in running profitable operations using the Budget Telecom Network business model. Ooredoo can, I suppose, buy that expertise. If they do not succeed in running a BTN model in Myanmar, it will be their money that will go down the drain.
The pendulum swings again. It was around 10 years ago that the great retreat was in full swing, with US and European telcos retreating from emerging markets (and even masking their investments as France Telecom did by making Mauritius Telecom the holding company for its African operations). Now they’re unloading European businesses to go where the action is. France Télécom, led by Stéphane Richard, is shedding assets in Europe, where phone companies are vying for a shrinking pool of new customers amid tightening regulation, to embrace faster-growing markets in Africa and the Middle East. “It makes sense to exit the difficult Swiss market and may give them more flexibility on the cash-flow side,” said Giovanni Montalti, an analyst in London at Crédit Agricole Cheuvreux.
India’s MTNL, Tata Teleservices and Reliance Communications along with France Telecom, South Africa’s Telkom, British Telecom and Kuwait’s Alkazar are vying for a 51 per cent controlling share of Kenya’s sole provider of fixed line services. In Nairobi last week the plan to privatise Telkom Kenya was presented in detail at a two-day government-inspired and sponsored conference. It was very successful and the proposed sell-off of the the East African country’s state-run incumbent has now attracted seven potential bidders. Read more.
Fibre-to-the-home that will provide broadband speeds of up to 100Mbps made possible in France. Read full story What has sparked investment in broadband is France is the low take-up of digital television, which makes it more attractive to offer TV over the internet. Many broadband providers now throw in a set-top box with a package which gives customers television, telephone and internet down a fast broadband line for around 30 Euros (about £20) a month. But something even faster is on its way. Beneath the streets of Paris two companies, France Telecom’s Orange and Free, are laying down fibre-optic cables to bring speeds of up to 100Mbps to homes in parts of the city.
In an effort to reduce the nation’s public debt, France’s Finance Ministry has just sold a five per cent stake in France Telecom for €2.65 billion. Rumours are circulating that the new administration under President Nicolas Sarkozy will sell more holdings in other state-controlled companies, such as the gas and electric utilities and aerospace industry, in an effort to cut taxes by €11 billion and encourage further economic development in France. Read more.