July 26--The newly appointed chief of Telenor Myanmar has set an ambitious target for its mobile business to reach the same size as Total Access Communication (DTAC) within a decade.
Myanmar is a nascent mobile phone market with only two operators. On June 27, Myanmar's government picked Norway'sTelenor and Qatar Telecom for 15-year mobile phone service licences. The licences are scheduled to be issued within 90 days after the announcement.
"We aim to become a market leader controlling one-third of the market in the long run," said Petter Furberg, DTAC's chief financial officer, who was promoted to chief executive of Telenor Myanmar two weeks ago.
DTAC, in which Telenor is the largest shareholder, is Thailand's second-biggest mobile phone service provider by subscribers.
"The company aims to launch service there within eight to nine months after the licence is awarded, and it has a mandate to provide network coverage to 60% of the population within the first year and full coverage in five years," he said.
It will roll out both third-generation (3G) service on the 2100-megahertz spectrum and 2G voice service on the 900-MHz spectrum. At present, 73% of mobile phone handsets in Myanmar are 2G.
Telenor was selected because it has 16 years of experience in Asia and DTAC serves the majority of Myanmar phone users in Thailand. Both companies will offer mobile financial service, especially money transfers, for Myanmar immigrant workers.
In Myanmar, Telenor will offer SIM cards for 49 baht each, even as some SIMs available there now cost US$100 each. Its voice tariff will have a maximum price of 70 satang per minute, 50% cheaper than current rates.
"Affordable prices will increase the number of mobile users from 6% last year from a population of 60 million," said Mr Furberg.
It aims to expand its distribution channels to 70,000 points within five years. To overcome power outages Telenor plans to use solar power.
He acknowledged competition will become intense as Myanmar's market has two existing local mobile operators, but he noted competition will always benefit users.
"We will use the Telenor brand in the market but may use sub-brands of DTAC too," he said.
Given this foothold, the Telenor group can increase its price advantage in global sourcing procurement for handsets and network equipment.
To expand its Myanmar telecom business, the Telenor group assigned two executives from DTAC to cover network and people development, two from Norway for government affairs and finance, and a chief marketer from India.
(c)2013 the Bangkok Post (Bangkok, Thailand)
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