Ooredoo goes live with 3G in Myanmar

New entrant operator Ooredoo (formerly Qtel) officially launched voice and data services in Myanmar over the weekend, following a soft launch earlier this month.

The company has currently launched in Myanmar’s three major cities and surrounding regions, initially covering 68 cities and towns and 7.8 million people. The network will rapidly extend beyond these three main cities to include 25 million people by the end of the year, Ooredoo said.

With prepay vouchers available from $1 and for sale at 30,000 outlets across the country in addition to the 6,500 dealers selling Ooredoo SIMs, the company said it is focused on ensuring accessibility for all.

Earlier, Ooredoo said it will introduce services focusing on maternal healthcare, solutions that help the country’s unbanked and technology that improves the productivity of the nation’s large agriculture sector.

What’s interesting in this case is that Ooredoo is claiming a world first by rolling-out a greenfield network based on UMTS900 technology, rather than refarming the 900MHz spectrum from 2G, which so many other operators are doing.

In June 2013, Myanmar’s government selected Norwegian operator group Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo as the two successful applicants for its nationwide telecommunications licences. The licensees have made a binding agreement to provide a minimum of 75 per cent geographic coverage for each region and state for voice, five years after the effective licence date. But with mobile penetration so low the country believes there is room for more challengers.

Last month Japanese operator KDDI Corporation and trade, retail and logistics firm Sumitomo Corporation reached an agreement with Myanmar Posts & Telecommunications to jointly deliver telecoms services in Myanmar.

A joint venture known as KDDI Summit Global Singapore (KSGS) has been used as a vehicle to establish a subsidiary, KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM) in Myanmar.

The southeast Asian country of Myanmar has a mobile phone penetration rate of approximately ten per cent in relation to a population of around 65 million and is expected to experience explosive growth in the future


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