Ooredoo Pips Telenor to the Post in Myanmar

Ooredoo has announced the official launch of its new 3G service in Myanmar will take place on August 15th this year, beating Telenor Myanmar by a matter of a few weeks.

Both operators were awarded licenses in June last year beating off stiff competition. Telenor Myanmar announced in February it intended to have its competing service up and running "within eight months", so around mid September 2014.

Both companies are engaged in a flurry of marketing activity in an attempt to win customers. Ooredoo is offering customers who sign up for a SIM card now a bundle of "life-enriching" services free of charge. The offer initially covers three of Myanmar’s major cities, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon. Coverage will rapidly extend beyond these main cities to include 68 cities and towns by 15 August. Ooredoo's network is planned to provide nation-wide services to 25 million people in 450 cities by the end of the year.

According to Dr. Nasser Marafih, Group CEO Ooredoo Ooredoo plans to offer a bundle of 'transformational' services including education, healthcare, and agriculture as well services to drive ICT development and innovation. "During the past year Ooredoo has set out to break down all the barriers that have limited the Myanmar people’s access to the best quality voice and fastest internet experience. Our aim is to support the Myanmar people and help them achieve their vast potential."

Telenor Myanmar meanwhile has already launched two initiatives to attract users. Tune Star, a nationwide contest to find Myanmar’s first mobile music star was announced mid June, followed by a partnership agreement with MIDO, an ICT development organisation to establish and run around 200 Community Information Centres (CICs). CICs aim to foster user adoption of mobile services and internet in rural areas and to improve digital literacy through nationwide initiatives for schoolchildren. The centres will be open to anyone in the local community, from farmers to youth and local villagers.

CICs will be run local social entrepreneurs who are selected by MIDO and Telenor Myanmar, and the telecoms company will provide all Internet connectivity and equipment. The marketing of the CIC centres will be done jointly by the entrepreneurs and Telenor Myanmar.

Commenting on the initiative Petter Furberg, CEO of Telenor Myanmar said "This is a great occasion and we are honoured to work with such a respected organisation as MIDO on rolling out our Community Information Centres in Myanmar. Telenor is committed to contributing to the communities in markets where it operates."

Meanwhile, as reported last week on Developing Telecoms, KDDI and Sumitomo have struck a deal with Myanmar Posts & Telecommunications (MPT) to modernise the operator’s mobile and fixed infrastructure. This will offer competition to both new entrants. Currently MPT's rate per MB for data is less than 10% of Ooredoo's, albeit for a much slower service.

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