Sherpa Hossainy's Blog

SingTel prods the game up a notch

Posted in ASEAN, IT, Myanmar, Technology, Telecommunications, Yangon by Sherpa Hossainy on July 10, 2013

Says “far exceeded” licence requirements, promises 95pc coverage in 3 years and transform people’s lives

Published in Myanmar Business Today (Vol 1, Issue 20) on June 20, 2013

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Telecom giant SingTel ramped up the telecom tussle ahead of the licence winner announcement by saying that it has “far exceeded” the government requirements and vowed to provide 95 percent network coverage in three years.

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) and its partners – KBZ Group and Myanmar Telephone Company (M-Tel) – are one of the 11 finalists in the race for two lucrative telecom licences in Myanmar.

“The consortium’s proposal far exceeds the government requirements in many areas, including network coverage plans and service prices,” Mark Chong, SingTel CEO International, Group Consumer, said at a press conference. The consortium will build a world-class mobile network, which will cover 95 percent of Myanmar population in 36 months, he added.

The SingTel CEO told Myanmar Business Today on the sidelines of the press conference, “We are confident in terms of our network reliability, quality and coverage. We will offer competitive package and innovative value-added products. We are going to offer competitive SIM prices and call rates in line with the regional standards. I don’t think we can charge supra-normal rates.”

Mark said: “With SingTel’s vast operations in many parts of the world, our knowledge in building new infrastructure and services from the ground up is unrivalled. We want to bring more than just a domestic telecom infrastructure. We will bring international connectivity that will improve the quality of lives of the people.”

“With the strength of our local partners KBZ and M-Tel, we believe through our investment, we can develop Myanmar’s telecom industry and create employment,” he added.

SingTel operates in both developed and emerging markets like Indonesia, India, Thailand and the Philippines, serving 468 million customers.

The telco said in a statement that together with the KBZ Group and M-Tel, which possess strong local presence and knowledge, the consortium is well-positioned to build a quality network to connect people, promote business activities and spur economic development.

Asked whether the government’s plan of achieving 80 percent mobile phone penetration by 2016 is realistic, Mark Chong said, “I think the government can answer it better. But we will try to do our best [to achieve that].”

However, one of the partners of the consortium M-Tel’s CEO Jonathan Myo Kyaw Thaung told Myanmar Business Today, “I believe it’s realistic and possible.”

He added, regarding the consortium’s strategy to build infrastructure in Myanmar’s conflict-prone areas, “This conflict areas are not new. The government has known about them for a while. The requirement fixed by the government tells us which township to cover and by when; and there’s leniency in terms of establishing networks in some parts of those conflict areas.”

To develop Myanmar’s international infrastructure, SingTel said, it will invite the government to participate in feasibility studies for future satellite programmes and lend its assistance in the launch of a Myanmar national satellite. “We are not saying this regardless of winning or losing the telecom. As one of the lead parties planning the Southeast Asia-Middle East-West Europe (SEA-ME-WE) 5 submarine cable, we want to include Myanmar as an ASEAN friend.”

U Nyo Myint, managing director of KBZ Group, said: “Our 20-year experience on the ground running large companies provides us with unique insights into the local operating environment. We believe that the consortium’s proposal will elevate Myanmar to be able to compete globally in the upcoming decade.”

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