Mytel, the fourth entrant in the Myanmar market, aims to be first. According to them, the question is not whether, but when. The fourth telecom operator, Myanmar National Tele and Communications Co Ltd (Mytel), said its investment has reached to about US$1 billion (1.36 trillion kyat) including the license fee in Myanmar. The telecommunication sector has the highest level of foreign investment.
In relation to past promises, USD 1.5 billion may not be much, but I place little weight on promises of investment anyway. More significant is VietTel’s promise to allow roaming at domestic-like prices in the Greater Mekong Region. Now this too has been talked about. But not acted upon so far.
I wrote earlier about the importance of timing when companies enter new markets. One hopes that this timetable will be adhered to in this fast maturing market. U Zaw Min Oo, a director of Myanmar Technologies and Investment Corporation – one of the 11 local firms – told The Myanmar Times this week that he expects the telco to receive its licence on December 21. “The ministry is arranging to provide the telecom license on that day in Nay Pyi Taw,” he said, adding that he could not share any further details of the new firm. U Zaw Min Oo said in October that senior management positions have been filled, with a Viettel official taking the chief executive position.
The longer it takes to get rolling, the more questions are likely to be asked about its prospects. Coming into a saturated market requires an edge. It appears that the secret sauce is the Military affiliated co-owner who has infrastructure in place, enabling a fast rollout. U Soe Naing, director of the ministry’s Posts and Telecommunications Department, told The Myanmar Times that the fourth telco’s licence application would be “done in two months if everything goes smoothly”. The new telco will face stiff competition from state-owned incumbent MPT, and established foreign firms Telenor and Ooredoo.
Speed is important in entry to competitive markets. The issues have been discussed in the context of other countries. One hopes that the negotiations will be speeded up and that they will make the necessary investments fast. However, according to the Myanmar Times, negotiations are still ongoing, the venture is not yet formally established and as such has not been able to apply for an operating licence. In addition to Viettel, the JV will comprise a government shareholder, known as Star High Public Company, and a local consortium, Myanmar National Telecom Holding.
Now that the licensing is done, it’s time for post mortems on the failed bids. Here is one on Viettel’s failed bid: In 2012, Telenor reported the total turnover of $16.5 billion and the net profit of $1.4 billion. The group has committed to develop the mobile network in the market the next year with the nationwide coverage within five years.