Ooredoo to Reach 30% of Burma’s Population Before the End of September

By May Kha 27 May 2014

RANGOON — Ooredoo Myanmar has announced it will make mobile phone and internet services available to 30 percent of Burma’s population sometime between July and September this year.

Ross Cormack, CEO of the Qatari company, told the media on Sunday that the company is building up its mobile phone network and working out how it can connect to the existing mobile network of government-owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT).

He added that Ooredoo’s network could already connect to the network being developed by Telenor, the Norwegian telecom firm that also owns a telecom license in Burma. Telenor has previously said that it expects to put SIM cards on the market in September.

The company said in the third quarter of 2014 it will launch services in the “backbone” of the country—the urban areas around Rangoon, Naypyidaw and Mandalay—reaching 30 percent of the population. By the end of the year, services will be available to 60 percent of people in the country, and within five years 97 percent will be able to use Ooredoo’s services.

Cormack said he could not yet reveal the price and service of the 3G SIM card, as Ooredoo is still conducting a nationwide customer survey.

“So far we have built more than 100 towers, and we are going to have more by the end of the year,” Cormack said, adding that two data centers in Rangoon and Mandalay had been completed and a third one in Naypyidaw will be finished next year.

He said the company will import handsets for its 3G network as some mobile phones currently on sale in Burma are not compatible with Ooredoo’s new SIM cards.

Last year, Ooredoo and Telenor won licenses for foreign firms to develop Burma’s telecom sector, a coveted market that remains untapped after decades of international isolation and economic stagnation under the previous military regime.

This article was amended on May 28, 2014. It originally stated, incorrectly, that Ooredoo Myanmar would issue 30 million SIM cards before the end of September.