Myanmar’s economy on a growth path

Ho mere piyaa gaye Yangon, kiya hai wahan se telephoon (My beau, away in Yangon, has telephoned me),” sang Nigar Sultana joyously in the 1949 Hindi film Patanga. The heroine was thrilled that her beau Gope was able to speak to her, in Dehra Dun, from a trunk line in Yangon, Myanmar. It was a superhit and immortal number and even the smartphone-empowered youth today sing it. If the scene was to be shot today, it may not be as exciting as it was then. Because nowadays mobile telephones connect … [Read more...]

Digital ventures in Myanmar

It’s difficult to imagine a country of 62 million people today with a population at large that’s been starved of the internet. It’s just as hard to think of any state – especially one within Asia, a continent where technology is king – where mobile phone uptake is only just beginning. That is the case in Myanmar, which is “discovering” the internet en masse and is only now turning on its very first affordable mobile phones, says Phil Morle, chief executive of Pollenizer, the Sydney-based … [Read more...]

When a SIM Card Goes From $2,000 to $1.50

Five years ago, buying a cell phone SIM card in Myanmar could set you back more than $2,000. It was an extravagance available only to the rich and well-connected—and even they couldn’t buy good reception. At the time, the country was just beginning to emerge from decades of isolation imposed by its military dictatorship. Only North Korea had fewer cell phones per capita. As the former Burma shifted to a nominally civilian government, its monopolistic state-owned carrier, Myanmar Post and … [Read more...]

Ooredoo and Telenor play down impact of lower Myanmar population

Myanmar’s population is almost nine million, or 15 per cent, lower than previously estimated, according to the latest government figures released on Saturday. The country’s Ministry of Immigration and Population’s provisional census data indicate a population of 51.4 million people – not 60-61 million. The national census was the first since 1983. The final census is not expected to be released until next May, and the fully analysed data could differ slightly from the preliminary results, … [Read more...]

Big leap in Communication

Myanmar’s telecommunications sector is poised for sharp growth with the entry into the market of two foreign operators and the government’s Myanma Post and Telecommunications planning a US$2 billion upgrade with a Japanese partner. Qatari-owned Ooredoo launched its commercial network on August 15, focusing on delivering 3G technology to provide faster internet and higher quality call connections to mobile users. 3G technology has a shorter range than 2G but can serve a high density of users, … [Read more...]

Telenor uncovers child labour usage in Myanmar network build

Telenor discovered that contractors constructing its new mobile network in Myanmar have been using child labour to develop base station sites in advance of the operator's launch of commercial services in the country in September. In a presentation on Telenor's Myanmar sustainability update, the company said it found three incidents of child labour being used in the build of sites around the country, despite having implemented strict guidelines on the use of underage labour. Underage labour … [Read more...]

Myanmar: From Foreign Investment to Improvement at Home

There must have been a sigh of relief as Ooredoo, a Qatar-based telecoms company, started offering its long-awaited SIM cards to Myanmar people, who would previously pay hundreds of dollars for somewhat dysfunctional services. Telenor, another foreign telecoms licence winner, vowed to provide network coverage for 90 percent of Myanmar’s population within five years. Myanmar has never had it so good. The two foreign companies are welcomed by the government as they upgrade the country’s … [Read more...]

Yangon govt eyes space for more telecom towers

Foreign telecom operators will be permitted to rent land owned by government ministries in Yangon Region to set up transmission towers, according Aung Khin, Yangon Region’s transport minister. The regional government has set up a team with members from the Yangon City Development Committee, city development and communication departments to facilitate the process, he said. The team can availability of land plots selected by the telecom operators, Aung Khin added. Rental fees would need to … [Read more...]

Many Burmese Will Have to Wait for Ooredoo Network

YANGON — Qatari telecommunications firm Ooredoo launched its 1,500 kyat (US$1.50) SIM cards here on Saturday, ending years of waiting for affordable and fast mobile phone and Internet services—for some. Ooredoo’s official commercial launch date is Aug. 15, but SIM cards are already being sold offering limited, but free, services. Norwegian company Telenor is expected to launch competing SIM cards sometime next month. “We are providing a standard high-definition voice. That means when you … [Read more...]

Ooredoo SIM Cards Go on Limited Sale in Myanmar

YANGON — Some shops in Mandalay have already begun selling a limited number of Ooredoo SIM cards, as the Qatari company remains tight-lipped about when its mobile phone cards will go on general sale. The sale of affordable SIM cards has been hotly awaited since Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor were named as the winners of a competitive tender last year to become the first private firms to offer mobile phone services in Myanmar. The two companies enter the market alongside state-owned company … [Read more...]