Telenor CEO says main obstacle is telecom towers

The major obstacle Telenor Myanmar faces is installing enough telecommunication towers to reach its full capacity, its CEO, Petter Furberg, told the Myanmar Connect 2014 Forum on September 16.

The forum provided a platform for each operator to discuss the challenges they face in the telecom sector. Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) general manager Khin Maung Tun, Ooredoo Myanmar CEO Ross Cormack, Yatanarpon Teleport Public Co Ltd senior executive department Nilar Aye joined Furberg at the forum.

New services from telecom operators aim to expand mobile coverage to 20 million people this year, the executives said. In five years, 97 per cent of the population will have access to mobile services, they added.

MPT has signed an MoU with Japan’s KDDI and Sumitomo Corporations for a joint-ventured that will see US$2 billion invested in upgrading and expanding the network of the former monopoly. Khin Maung Tun said the investment would not flow step-by-step, rather than all at once.

Furberg said Telenor would introduce its SIM cards soon and that two companies had been subcontracted to construct 200 towers. Telenor said its investment would be about US$1 billion.

Khin Maung Tun agreed that more towers were needed and said its new foreign rivals were leasing MPT towers. Poor connections are unrelated to the sharing of the towers, he said.

“We have had some difficulties because we transformed Yatanarpon Teleport into a public company. We have to negotiate with overseas telecommunication companies to help our network penetrate rural areas. The key challenges are supply and demand,” Nilar Aye said.

Ooredoo and Telenor received licences to operate in January 2014. The licences are good for 15 years. MPT’s contract with KDDI and Sumitomo Corporations is for 10 years.


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