At least 4 apply for Myanmar license bid

Dylan Bushell-Embling
28 Jan 2013
Daily News

At least four telecom companies have expressed an interest in bidding for Myanmar's two new nationwide telecom licenses.

SingTel, Axiata, Temasek subsidiary ST Telemedia and Norway's Telenor have each submitted expressions of interest in the licenses, Bloombergreported.

The deadline for companies to register their interest was going to be last Friday, but the ICT ministry recently extended the date until 3pm local time on February 8.

The government revealed on January 15 that it plans to issue two nationwide telecom licenses by June, as part of plans to improve the nation's single-digit mobile and fixed penetration levels.

The auction forms part of a wider policy of opening up the nation's telecom sector up to international investment.

Myanmar has been attracting strong interest from the global telecom sector since this policy was announced, as it represents one of the few remaining relatively untapped telecom markets.

Separately, former telecom minister Thein Tun and several former senior officials from the ministry are reportedly the subjects of a new corruption probe.

The Wall Street Journal, citing government officials,reports that the probe concentrates on issues “including corruption” and “cronyism.” But the officials did not make any specific allegations.

Another government official told Reuters that around 50 senior ICT ministry officals are “facing inquiries.”

Industry watchers blame the former minister for keeping the price of SIMs out of reach for the majority of Myanmar citizens – they still sell for as high as $350, barely less than the nation's average annual income.

The probe appears to be another signal by the new government that it is serious about reforming the telecom sector.

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