Ooredoo May Cut Prices to Fend off New Mobile Operator – Myanmar CEO

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Ooredoo may make its services cheap­er to prevent an in­coming competitor from taking its customers, the head of its Myanmar op­eration has said.

The Qatar-based com­pany is ready to do “what­ever it takes” when Myan­mar’s fourth telco operator enters the market later this year, Ooredoo’s CEO for Myanmar, Rene Meza, told Myanmar Business Today.

A joint venture between local firms and Vietnam’s Viettel is due to start sell­ing SIM cards this year, fuelling fiercer compe­tition in the country’s young telecoms sector.

Both customers and the government will benefit from a more competitive market, said Rene Meza, who has been at the helm of the company’s Myan­mar operation since Au­gust 2015.

“We’re ready for compe­tition and we’ve been pre­paring for this new player for a long, long time now,” said Meza. “If we have to do whatever it takes to retain customers and re­main competitive as a player, we’ll do it.”

“If that comes in the form of us having to fur­ther reduce our already low prices, we’ll do so… That’s what competition is all about,” he said.

The Viettel-backed joint venture, Myanmar’s fourth-and final-player, will become the country’s second Myanmar major­ity owned telco operator with Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public Limited and Star High Public Company Lim­ited holding a 51 percent stake. Viettel Global, Viet­tel’s investment arm, will hold the rest.

The joint venture an­nounced in January it will invest $2 billion in Myanmar’s telecoms sec­tor and aims to cover 95 percent of the population by 2020.

The government first outlined its plans for a fourth operator back when Ooredoo was bid­ding for the country’s second license, at the be­ginning of telecoms lib­eralization’s in 2013, said Meza, adding, “It comes as no surprise.”

But what remains in the dark for telecoms opera­tors is how exactly the im­pending 1800 megahertz spectrum allocation, which will enable greater 4G coverage, will be allo­cated, said Meza.

With the government’s proposed spectrum al­location date of March fast approaching, nego­tiations between telecoms operators are still ongo­ing, said a government official.

“We will offer equal chances to all four opera­tors for the 1800 mega­hertz spectrum, hopefully in March,” said U Myo Swe, deputy director gen­eral of the Posts and Tel­ecommunication Depart­ment.

With the government looking at distributing spectrum amongst all four operators there shouldn’t be any need for a bidding process, which has been the favoured route by the government, said Meza.

Myanmar is well placed to learn off the mistakes of other countries, where high prices for spectrum discouraged operators and hindered econom­ic development, added Meza.

But U Myo Swe says that the price of spec­trum comes down to a lack of fibre and wire­less infrastructure in Myanmar, which other countries have at their disposal when providing spectrum.

“We are in the nego­tiation process and we’re trying to arrive on a rea­sonable price with the op­erators.” he said.

 

Source: Myanmar Business Today

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