There is doubt whether the fourth operator can mount a credible entry, given delays that are a necessary feature of 13 partners being involved. But they are supposed to have a trump up their sleeve: the military, which is a partner through Star High Public, may give the yet-to-be-named fourth operator exclusive access to military sites for their towers. This seems anti-competitive, on the face. But because the regulator and the competition authority are not in place, they may get away with it. Three telecom companies, including Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public Ltd, Star High Public Co Ltd and Viettel from Vietnam are negotiating a business plan to form the fourth telecom company to operate in Myanmar.
Now that Myanmar is on the move, Cuba’s position in the telecom league tables is likely to decline further. Or will it? Minority partnerTelecom Italia (who says Communists are against foreign investment?) has been given USD 706 million to go away by Raul Castro’s son-in-law’s company. If they have that kind of change, perhaps they are planning to invest in the sector as well?
A dark cloud has appeared on the horizon of the Myanmar telecom sector in the form of a license granted to a military affiliated company. There is precedent in countries such as Iran. As long as the regulator can regulate, ownership need not be an issue. Usually the problem is the difficulty a regulator has in effectively exerting authority over the incumbent. The Myanmar incumbent is in such bad shape and the network in so undeveloped that this may not be such a huge concern.