Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

Golden Age of Telecoms Nearly Over For All But A Few Remaining Markets

For the past 20 years the telecoms industry has seen its “golden age”, even growing fast enough to catapult its most powerful figure, Carlos Slim, to the head of the Forbes Rich List. This growth is now beginning to slow and industry analysts Ovum predict that by 2018 the market will see its first decline. Until then, new phone connections will continue to grow by approximately 4% per annum, rising from 6.5 billion to 8.1 billion – more than today’s worldwide total population. Revenues won’t rise nearly as much as this, likely due to the lower incomes of the few remaining markets that telecoms companies will target in the meantime.

Myanmar has previously been highlighted as one of those markets and this week it emerged that the Myanmarese government would be inviting both Orange and Vodafone to pitch to them with the idea of a leading telecoms company partnering with their state run mobile phone operator, MPT. The idea behind inviting these particular network operators to the party is based on Orange coming second in the previous round of bidding for spectrum space in Myanmar and Vodafone now being on everyone’s lips after signing the 3rd largest deal ($130b) in telecoms history.

Both companies offer exciting opportunities to quickly capitalise on the fact Myanmar only have a current mobile phone subscription rate of 9%. To put that into perspective, neighbouring Thailand has a subscription rate of 110%.

Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

Myanmar Telecoms Auction Winners Announced

Myanmar is one of the last remaining untapped markets for telecoms companies operating in Asia. We reported in January 2013 about the impending boom set to hit Myanmar’s telecoms industry, and this is now well and truly up and running.

Two networks were selected after the auctions to spearhead the countries drive in becoming modernised and able to operate as part of the global economy. Those networks were Qatari state-owned Ooredoo and Norwegian based Telenor. These companies were handed the licensing laws to the countries telecoms spectrum, allowing them to expand both 3G and 4G services.

Currently, the number of mobile subscription is just 9% of the overall population. In comparison, neighbouring Thailand has a mobile subscription of 110%. With between 55 – 60 million people currently living in Myanmar, the potential for growth is huge. As part of the agreement for Ooredoo and Telenor to operate their services, they have agreed to raise subscription levels to 85% within 5 years.

It was always going to be hard to put a figure on the value of the Myanmar telecoms market, but it already appears that Ooredoo seem confident that they will more than recoup their expected $15 billion investment, as they’ve planned to open 240,000 SIM card purchase points, with a massive 720,000 top-up locations. The majority of these will be already opened and running shops who will provide services on their behalf. In contrast and possibly attempting to utilise a more “online” focused service, Telenor plan just 70,000 SIM card points and 95,000 top up locations.

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Business Health Miscellaneous Mobile Phones Networks News

Google’s Eric Schmidt due to visit Myanmar for telecoms chat

Back in January, we brought you the news behind Myanmar’s expected growth in the telecoms industry. Imagine how interesting it was to then read this morning that Google’s former chief executive Eric Schmidt is due to visit the booming country next week. His trip there will see him talking with governmental officials at a technology and communications get-together, all coming in the wake of countries changing political stance in 2011. This has vastly increased the attractiveness of foreign business investing in the country, largely considered as an untapped market with huge potential.

Currently in the country formerly known as Burma, mobile subscriptions account for 9% of the 60 million strong population. In neighbouring Thailand mobile subscription account for 110% of the countries population, demonstrating that nearly everyone in the country has a mobile phone with quite a few of those individuals having more than 1 phone. This public interest is likely to filter through into the neighbouring country, showing just how large an opportunity there is in the telecoms sector.

Google’s interest in Myanmar and the reason for the talks is likely to have something to do with the fact that Google themselves are large players in the mobile phone market, being the company behind the world’s most popular operating system, Android. As more and more people own handsets with Android installed, Google themselves being at their core a data business, will have more information to analyse to improve their number 1 revenue generating business, their search engine. For a company in a position such as Google, who can capitalize in various ways from a presence in Myanmar, it represents a huge opportunity where relationships developed during Schmidt’s visit could become critical.

Good thinking.