Bandwidth Tender Suspended Again

The tender for a 2600MHz licence has been suspended yet again due to objections from two major telco players, Ooredoo and Telenor.

“We will call tender for two types of frequencies. 2600MHz will be offered first, then 1800MHz will be next. Any spectrum licence holder can apply for 2600MHz. Detailed information will be released soon,” U Soe Thein, director general of Posts and Telecommunications Department, said.

More than 20 companies with internet service provider licences and mobile operators are allowed to apply for 2600MHz tender, but 1800MHz is only allowed for telecom operators, he added.

“The government has a plan to provide 2,600MHz and 1,800MHz frequencies. For Telenor, we want the 1,800 MHz frequency more than 2,600MHz. If the government shortened the times between the two auctions, we will wait for 1,800MHz and won’t apply for 2,600MHz. If the government takes too much time between auctions, we may apply for the 2,600MHz frequency,” Nyi Nyi Aung, Senior Expert, Corporate Communications, Telenor Myanmar, said.

Representatives from Ooredoo could not be reached by press time.

Telenor and Ooredoo composed a joint letter to the Myanmar Investment Commission condemning the actions and tender practices put forth by the then Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (now Ministry of Transport and Communications) for the 2,600 MHz frequency back in February.

The letter, which bears the names of the outgoing Telenor CEO Petter Furberg and Ooredoo CEO Rene Meza, claims that the two companies received information about a tender auction in January from MCIT.

“According to the information provided, the MCIT is planning to issue six new nationwide licenses to provide broadband wireless service via an auction to be held in haste before the end of March this year,” the letter states.

Since January 28, the Posts and Telecommunications Department has been trying to call a tender for the 2,600MHz frequency licence to provide broadband wireless service in domestic market, but they had to postpone tender calls due to criticism on tender rules and regulations and the subsequent redrafting of the rules.

Rather than providing separate licences for local and foreign firms in the telecom sector, the tender rules and regulation ought to consider a joint-venture system between experienced companies in Myanmar and foreign, technologically-strong companies, U Ye Kyaw Thein, a local technology expert, said.

Mobile internet is widely used in Myanmar, but broadband internet is very rare. The country needs better broadband internet service providers, U Zaw Win Tun, executive member of Myanmar Computer Professionals Association, said.

“Mobile internet usage is rapidly growing but broadband internet is still struggling. We can see some weakness in mobile internet service, it also needs to develop. Extending to 2,600MHz is a good chance to provide better internet service as well as a cheaper price,” U Zaw Win Tun said.

Nationwide internet bandwidth in 2013-14 reached 30Gb and now it has risen fivefold to 150Gb, but slow connections plague users due to high user traffic, according to U Zaw Win Tun.

The tender will be called again for local and foreign firms in August, according to Ministry of Transport and Communications.


Source: Myanmar Business Today

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