Myanmar invites applications for two telecoms licences

Myanmar today (15 January 2013) invited expressions of interest for two national telecommunications services licences.

I have blogged about the prospects for telecoms in Myanmar before, and today’s announcement starts to clear some of the fog obscuring the road ahead.

Policy framework

In the short press release,  the Government recites that their policy framework is:

“for the development of the country’s telecommunications and ICT industry by facilitating competition of both local and international operators in the sector”.

A more detailed overview is set out in an appendix to the expression of interest.

Policy Goals

The press release then states that the goals are:

“to increase the overall teledensity of the country to 75% to 80% in 2015-16 to make the telecommunications services available to the public at affordable prices, and to give the public the capability of choice for the telecoms services.”

Key licence terms and process

The expression of interest further explains that:

  • the telecommunications licences will be technology neutral;

  • there will be a range of spectrum available across multiple frequency bands;

  • the initial licence term will range between 10 to 20 years with the possibility of renewal;

  • there will be a requirement to meet or exceed specified population and geographic coverage targets;

  • there will also be a requirement to commit to reasonable tariffs and low initial registration fees in order to facilitate the Union Government’s accessibility and tele-density targets;

  • both new and existing licensees will be expected to enter into infrastructure and facilities sharing arrangements in order to achieve rapid and cost efficient network deployment;  and

  • the licences will be awarded via a comparative evaluation process.

 Information required for Expression of interest

The expression of interest sets out the information to be provided by bidders, which focuses on the existing operations of the bidders – presumably this is to qualify bidders and information about their plans for Myanmar will be collected at a later stage of the process.

Next steps

Expressions of interest are due by 3pm on 25 January 2013  with licences expected to be awarded by the first half of 2013. Although the process has a long way to go, the stated policy aims are very much in line with international best practice, which compares well with the approach taken by other lesser developed countries.