The Irrawaddy

New Telecom Firm Mytel Transmits First Call

(From L to R) Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing, Minister of Transport and Communications U Thant Sin Maung, and Minister of Electricity and Energy U Win Khaing attend a ceremony inaugurating Mytel’s network on Feb. 13.

YANGON — A new telecom firm operated jointly by the Myanmar and Vietnamese militaries under the brand name Mytel transmitted its ceremonial first call in Naypyitaw on Sunday, ahead of its upcoming official service launch.

Mytel is a joint venture between Vietnam Defense Ministry-owned Viettel and two local partners: Star High Company (a subsidiary of the military-run Myanmar Economic Holdings Ltd.) and Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public Ltd.

It was awarded the country’s fourth and final telecom operator’s license on Jan. 12, 2017. The license is valid for 15 years and can be renewed.

“The telecommunications industry is one of the major businesses helping to drive the country’s development. Better telecommunications services, both domestic and international, will lead to rapid improvement of people’s socioeconomic status,” said Myanmar Army Chief Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing in his opening speech at a ceremony to mark the first call in Naypyitaw on Sunday.

He said Mytel would also assist in the development of Myanmar’s social environment.

He added that it would provide public services such as free Internet, multimedia, and tele-centers, as well as establish a charity program under the name Operation Smile.

At the ceremony, Snr-Gen Min Aung Hlaing made a video call to Vietnamese Minister of National Defense Gen. Ngo Xuan Lich, Myanmar Northern Command chief Maj-Gen Nyi Nyi Swe, Triangle Region Command chief Maj-Gen Aung Zaw Aye and Coastal Region Command chief Maj-Gen Lin Aung, according to the army chief’s official Facebook page.

Mytel estimates it will invest nearly $1.5 billion to deploy 7,200 base stations and build out a 4-G network, according to Viettel. Star High Company has an approximately 28 percent stake in the venture.

The company joins three existing telecom operators: Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), a state-owned provider that has partnered with Japan’s KDDI Corp; Qatar’s Ooredoo; and Norwegian operator Telenor.

Mytel aims to focus on rural areas and has set a target of reaching 95 percent of the population with its network.

It is scheduled to launch SIM card sales in the first quarter of this year.