Myanmar is two months away from getting fourth operator: report

Myanmar smartphones
Credit: steve estvanik /

The fourth planned telco in Myanmar – whose investors include Vietnamese operator Viettel – reportedly will receive its telecoms license within the next couple of months, although it won’t begin commercial services until early next year.

The new operator is a joint venture comprising Viettel – which won a tender for the license at the end of last year – Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public (a consortium of 11 local companies) and Star High Public Company.

According to The Myanmar Times, the partners finally came to an agreement after longer-than-expected negotiations, and signed a formal deal last month:

U Soe Naing, director of the ministry’s Posts and Telecommunications Department, told The Myanmar Times that the fourth telco’s licence application would be “done in two months if everything goes smoothly”.

Viettel owns 49% of the new entity, while the Myanmar partners own the remaining 51%, but a Viettel executive is likely to be appointed CEO, the report said.

While more competition is arguably a good thing, the new telco may be at a disadvantage by entering late into a market with three operators that have already cashed in on the phenomenal growth wave when Myanmar opened its telecoms market around two years ago. State-owned incumbent MPT has over 20 million customers, while foreign-owned operators Telenor and Ooredoo have 17 million and over 8 million customers, respectively.

However, the Myanmar Times report notes, Star High has access to 1,000 towers and over 13,000 kilometers of fiber, while its military-owned parent firm Myanmar Economic Corporation owns the market’s current, unofficial fourth operator, MECTel:

[Ministry of Communications and Transport director] U Than Htun Aung said the fourth telco could only start building additional towers and infrastructure when the license was formally awarded.

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