Ooredoo builds 100 towers as launch looms closer

Mobile operator Ooredoo has built about 100 cell towers with hundreds more in the pipeline ahead of its expected launch in the third quarter 2014, according to CEO Ross Cormack.

The Qatar-based telco expects to have about 30 percent population coverage at launch, particularly in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw but also other areas, he said during a press update in Yangon on May 25.

Although the firm claims to have about 100 towers up in the air, it has started work on 400 and expects to have 1000 by the end of the year, he said.

Securing local government permission to build individual towers is not simple, particularly given the number of towers to be built, with Ooredoo, Telenor and Myanma Posts and Telecommunications all looking at builds in Myanmar.

“All the planning authorities have been deluged with more paper they’ve seen in their lives,” he said.

“Yes there have been some hiccups in the process but we’re learning how to run the process properly. We’ve had some starts and stops but everything I think is running smoothly today.”

Getting permission for each tower is not simple. The builder must find a land owner, determine whether a tower can be built on the land, sign a conditional contract for a lease, then go to the regional authority such as Yangon City Development Committee and apply for a permit.

“The process is very complicated,” said Mr Cormack.

Towers generally sit on a concrete base measuring ten by ten metres square, with a depth of two metres and a tower between 30 and 80 metres on top, he said, adding the most common tower is 60 metres high.

A full tower costs about US$100,000, though prices can be less if they sit on rooftops.

Ooredoo has inked deals with two independent tower companies, Pan Asia Towers and Myanmar Tower Company, to build towers.

The firm has also built some 1200 kilometres of backhaul fibre, with several hundred more kilometres due by the end of the year, he said.

It has data centres in Yangon and Mandalay, and expects its data centre in Nay Pyi Taw to be complete in the next two to three week.

Ooredoo has already completed an interconnect test call with Telenor, and is in negotiations with incumbent operator (MPT) about interconnecting.

Source Myanmar Times

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