August 26, 2015 / 9:01 AM / in 4 years

Seventeen Myanmar firms apply to join new mobile network joint-venture

YANGON, Aug 26 (Reuters) - Seventeen local firms have applied to join a consortium that would operate Myanmar’s fourth mobile phone network, a Ministry of Communication and Information Technology official said on Wednesday.

Chit Wai, a deputy permanent secretary at the ministry, said only companies which have operated for at least three months and have at least 3 billion kyat ($2.4 million) in registered capital will be considered, adding that a list of the winning firms would be announced in September.

There is no limit on the number of local firms that can joining the consortium, which will also include a foreign partner, Chit Wai added. The ministry had last month announced its decision to launch the fourth mobile network.

“The next step after selecting local partners will be appointing an international consulting firm to help select a foreign partner for the joint-venture,” Chit Wai said.

The licence, which will be valid for 15-years, is likely to be granted by the end of this year, he added.

The liberalisation of Myanmar’s telecoms sector is widely seen as one of the country’s most successful reforms since the end of military rule in 2011. Mobile phone usage has since jumped to about half of the population of 51 million.

Currently, Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo offer cellphone services in Myanmar. A third telecom license is held by MPT, a joint venture between the telecoms ministry and Japan’s KDDI Corp..

Three years ago, cellphone penetration in Myanmar was 2.3 percent, Asia’s lowest after North Korea.

Reporting by Aung Hla Tun; Editing by Miral Fahmy

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