The company’s new “Phalan Phalan Internet” plan arrives as the telco gears up for fresh expansion into Myanmar’s more remote territories. Earlier this year, the firm lowered its calling rate to K20 a minute, K5 below Telenor’s rate. Ooredoo’s Norwegian rival had set pay-as-you-go internet rates through its standard My Internet package at K6 per megabyte.
The tax, while currently on the books, has not been enforced due to a sector-wide exemption, said MCIT director U Than Tun Aung. “The commercial tax has been implemented last year but because at that time the telecoms sector has been tremendously improving … the Union Government as well as the Parliament decided to give benefits to the population first, so they gave the industry a one-year exemption for the commercial tax,” he said at the Nay Pyi Taw press event yesterday. That exemption will close soon as an amendment to the Commercial Tax Law came into force on April 1, said an MCIT press release.
Since Myanmar opened up its economy in 2010, after one of the most brutal dictatorships in Asia, capitalism has been on the rise. The country’s abundant natural resources, strategic location between Asia’s powers India and China, and its largely untapped market of 60 million people have caught the interest of foreign investors. Singapore-based startup Leo Tech is one of those trying to navigate Myanmar’s spurting, but still opaque, business environment. Leo Tech launched its umbrella brand for financial tech, ConnectNPay, in 2014, along with the bid of several companies like German group Rocket Internet to jumpstart ecommerce in Myanmar.
Several companies have made an initial bid and are now carrying out the due diligence process on MTC, according to a source at one of the companies, who did not want to be named as the matter is sensitive. MTC and Yoma Strategic both declined to comment. Digicel Group first came to Myanmar with a view to securing one of two international telecommunications licences tendered by the government, which were eventually won by Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo.
Asia Tech Image ramped up a production line with a monthly capacity of 300,000 contact image sensor (CIS) modules in Myanmar in first-quarter 2015 and in order to meet increasing orders will set up a second production line with the same capacity there by the end of 2015 and will start production in early 2016, according to Chinese-language newspaper Economic Daily News(EDN).
After years in which the telecommunications sector was dominated by state-owned monopoly Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), in 2012 officials confirmed plans to reform the industry. In June 2013, following an international tender, licences were granted to Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo. State media announced that the government would also “grant license to two local operators – Myanma Posts and Telecommunications and Myanma Economic Corporation as a joint venture and the other Yatanarpon Teleport Co which will reshape itself as a public company”.
KDDI, which on May 12 released its financial report for the fiscal year ending March 2015, stated that launching operations in Myanmar had boosted revenues for its global services segment, with the segment’s operating revenues posted at 320.6 billion yen (US $2.7 billion) – up more than 20 percent over the year prior. The company first officially entered Myanmar last July when it joined Sumitomo Corporation in setting up a subsidiary, KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM), to assist state-owned MPT in competing with then-forthcoming international telcos Ooredoo and Telenor.
Mr Cormack will be replaced by Rene Meza, currently the managing director of Vodacom Tanzania. Mr Meza has made emerging markets a specialty as he has occupied senior positions at telcos across Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to Ooredoo. “Ross feels that he’s achieved what he wants to in Myanmar with Ooredoo Myanmar successfully established and he feels that the time is right to look for a new professional challenge,” said Ooredoo Myanmar senior public relations manager Ma Thiri Kyar Nyo yesterday.
The build-and-lease contract is for a period of 18 months, according to the statement. This is a relatively modest rollout plan compared to other towers companies operating in Myanmar. Pan-Asia Towers, for instance, signed in early 2014 to build 1250 towers for Ooredoo as part of its phase one program, which is already complete. A report by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and mobile operators industry body GSMA estimates that more than 17,000 telecommunication towers will need to be set up by 2017 to cover 70 percent of Myanmar’s population.
The firm has seen a steady increase in users since launching in October 2014, with nearly 60 percent of its subscribers actively using data, its first quarter 2015 report said. “In the coming quarters, we plan to ramp up network investments to cater for the strong demand for digital services in this connectivity-hungry nation,” Telenor Group president and CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas said in a statement. “While we are encouraged by the promising start in Myanmar, it has to be noted that it is still early days.”
The federation is currently in discussions with potential land owners, looking to emulate the success of MICT park in Hlaing township. “We estimate the ICT zone will be finished by the end of the year. The ICT zone is to collect together the IT sector,” said U Zaw Min Oo. MCF president U Khun Oo said there will be many work opportunities on the site for ICT professionals after it is up and running.
The firm has spent millions on its ongoing expansion, though is also generating growing revenue, according to its first-quarter 2015 report released yesterday. Ooredoo Myanmar revenues for the first quarter of 2015 came to QAR 236 million (US$64.8 million), though turned an overall $42 million net loss, attributed to its continued coverage expansion. It now covers more than 28 million people, its report said.
Qatar-based Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor were awarded licences to operate in Myanmar in February last year. Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), formerly the country’s monopoly provider, initially struggled to keep up, but then rebounded with support from Japanese firms KDDI and Sumitomo. The two foreign providers initially made rapid inroads by gathering up the low-hanging fruit presented by urban markets. But most of the population is in rural areas, where infrastructure is weak, slowing the pace of mobile penetration, U Thar Htet, managing director of Zwenexsys company, told The Myanmar Times yesterday.
Myanmar people with internet access are able to sign up with a number of local companies that provide online trading platforms. Users can then make trades on futures markets in foreign countries, such as Thailand, Singapore and New Zealand. At their most basic, futures contracts are agreements to buy an item, such as a commodity, at an up-front price, with delivery at a later, specified date. The contracts are then often heavily traded on international markets, as the underlying item changes in value before the delivery date.
Competition has been increasing in the market since Telenor and Ooredoo entered the market last year, and MPT began a significant revamp with support from Japanese firms KDDI and Sumitomo. MPT has extended promotional prices for users of its Swe Thahar plan, offering half-priced internet beginning in March. It also allows MPT users to call three other MPT numbers at K25 a minute, a discount from its usually K35. Last year, MPT provided a 20 percent bonus from April 12 to 21, though it currently does not plan a similar bonus for its non-Swe Thahar users this year.
With a background in computer programming, he has become a leading advocate for free software, the concept that software should be open to use, modification and distribution by anyone. Mr Stallman visited Yangon last week, bringing his often controversial message to local audiences. Along with other wordplay, puns received particular preference in his talk on free software and much more at downtown Yangon innovation lab, Phandeeyar, and helped demonstrate his distaste for proprietary software such as Microsoft Windows. At the April 2 event, he called Apple’s app store the “Crap” store, and renamed Amazon’s Kindle reader the “Swindle”.
In Yangon, Myanmar, it’s been a few years since the military made the decision to let citizens govern themselves. The city’s infrastructure is still not well-developed, and the residents remain quite traditional. One thing that is noticeable, however, is that a lot of people use smartphones in Yangon. Opera, an active player in the global web browser business, came to Yangon last weekend to share an initiative with the emerging market.
This form of social media arrived in 2011 and took off in 2012. This year, you can find all the details you want to know about the names, locations and facilities of every pandal in town, as well as ticket prices. “I used to find out what I needed to know about Thingyan arrangements in pamphlets and advertising boards. Now I go to Facebook, thanks to our country’s developing communications,” said Ko Min Min Hein. Kaung Kaung, organiser of the Barrack pandal team, said the same phenomenon had pushed up his advertising rates.
The Qatari telco’s new “Red” promotion, which public and community relations senior manager Ma Thiri Kyar Nyo called a New Year’s present, rolled out yesterday. With the campaign, Ooredoo Myanmar is K5 below Telenor’s price and K15 below state–owned telco MPT’s Swe Thahar plan. Telenor charges K25 and Swe Thahar costs K35 per minute for making calls respectively.