Monday, 1 July 2013

Airtel loses licence to Telenor, Ooredoo in Myanmar

NEW DELHI & KOLKATA: Bharti Airtel, India's biggest mobile phone company, lost the race for two hotly-contested licences to Norway's Telenor and Qatar's Ooredoo in Myanmar, one of the last major unpenetrated telecom frontiers in the world. 

Myanmar's Telecommunications Operator Tender Evaluation & ion Committee said it had ed Telenor and Ooredoo for awarding nationwide mobile permits, and also picked a consortium of France Telecom-Orange and Marubeni as a back-up company, in case one of the two companies isn't able to meet post-ion requirements. ET was first to report Telenor started hiring in Myanmar two days before the allotment of licences. 

The committee said the 15-year licences would be awarded "pursuant to the new Telecommunications Law which the Parliament is expected to adopt in the current session". Norway's Telenor operates in India under the Uninor brand, in joint venture with Lakshdeep Investments that owns 26%. Ooredoo, formerly Qatar Telecom, is Qatar's national carrier that had said while bidding that it would invest $15 billion (over 90,000 crore approx) in Myanmar if it won a licence. 

Bharti Airtel, the sole Indian bidder among 11-shortlisted for mobile licences, had submitted its final bid on June 4. 

Telenor and Ooredoo have committed to cover 75% geographic region and state for voice five years after the effective licence date, said the Myanmar government. 

The two licencees have committed to offer a wide range of services to the public at affordable prices in both urban and rural areas. If they do not meet their coverage and quality of service commitments in any of the first five years, the ministry of communications and information technology has the right to exercise a performance bond. 

Jon Fredrik Baksaas, president & CEO, Telenor Group, said its strategy of delivering accessible and affordable mobile communications services across five countries in Asia would come in handy in Myanmar. 

Telenor will build a state-of-the-art mobile network using 3G and 4G-ready technologies and commercially launch voice and data services on mobile in 2014. 

"Myanmar will be an important pillar in our growth strategy and we are fully committed to responsibly leverage our group competencies to provide access to mobile communications services for the people of Myanmar. We now look forward to working with the Myanmar authorities on the final steps in the licence process," he said. A Telenor Group spokesman declined to reveal how much it would invest to build a green-field network in Myanmar, but confirmed that "a majority of the workforce of Telenor's Myanmar arm would comprise local employees".

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