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Foreign operators express interest in Myanmar licences

Myanmar’s national mobile licences have roused the interest of four international operators after the country’s government made them available to foreign firms in a bid to encourage investment from overseas.

Singaporean firms SingTel and ST Telemedia were joined by Malaysian Axiata and Scandinavian Telenor in declaring their interest in the licences. Four licences – which will be valid for 20 years - are planned for issue by this summer.

Myanmar’s telecommunications sector is being radically overhauled in an attempt to attract international investment. Long bereft of an independent regulator, the country will have one by 2015 if a proposed telecommunications law – due to be submitted to parliament in the first half of 2013 – is enacted.

The proposal is part of a drive by the country’s government to attract investment and increase mobile coverage to 80% by 2016 – currently penetration sits at just 9%, with around 5.5 million mobile users.

In a statement, SingTel underlined the investment opportunities available in “large, underpenetrated markets”, with Axiata concurring that Myanmar “represents a strategic market given its high growth potential”. Telenor meanwhile noted that it is “well-positioned to contribute in developing a successful mobile industry in Myanmar.”

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