Ooredoo is spending $1 billion in Myanmar this year to roll out almost 1,000 3G base stations to cover 30% to 40% of the population of the country, where just 1% have access to the internet and a SIM card still costs $140.
Ross Cormack, CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar, tells Telecom Asia group editor Joseph Waring about his excitement working in the newest emerging market, the huge pent-up demand for mobile and the significant challenges faced.
“We think of it as one of the last frontiers markets in telecom -- less than 10% is penetrated and with a large population of about 65 million,” Cormack said. “And it’s definitely a market being watched by the whole world.”
He said the country is at the inflection point of seeing real growth in the future. Already the government has forecast growth at about 6% over next few years.
Since the telecom infrastructure is of course one of the enablers of all the other industries that a country needs in the modern age, “telecom is essential for developing the country’s abundant natural resources – from hydrocarbons to gems and metals.”
People are just beginning to discover Myanmar as it starts to open up, so it has a huge untapped tourist market. He added that only about 35% of the population has access to electrical power. “For the liberalization of this and every other industry, telecommunications is essential as well.”
A clear sign of the vast pent-up demand is that SIM cards still cost as much as $140 since the current networks can’t support the number of people who want to use them. Last year the price was $400-500 and two years ago a SIM was $2,000.