Rupert Owen Issue: Asia-Pacific II 2015
Article no.: 10
Topic: Asia’s least developed telecommunications market is well on its way
to becoming the world’s fastest growing
Author: Rupert Owen
Title: Director of Overseas Exhibition Services
Organisation: CommuniCast
PDF size: 371KB

About author

Rupert Owen, Director of Overseas Exhibition Services, CommuniCast

Rupert Owen is the Director of Overseas Exhibition Services. With over thirty years experience in developing and organising trade shows across Asia, the most recent one being for the ICT industry in Myanmar, Rupert has an extensive knowledge of the region and the developments that are constantly changing and shaping the Asian region.
Prior to working for the Overseas Exhibition Services, Rupert spent four years in Singapore working on events. His previous experience was in international marketing for a UK based brewery. Rupert received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Geography from Durham University.

Article abstract

The Myanmar government has not only emphasised its support for the developing ICT industry through the liberalisation of the mobile market but also through the issuing of an unlimited number of Internet Service Provider (ISP) licences. Since mid-November 2014, 45 ISPs have applied for licences, with more than 12 already being issued. Amongst these 12, four are tower companies, two are fibre optic network providers, and six are infrastructure and private companies.  

Full Article

The global telecommunications industry is constantly changing and developing to meet the ever-increasing demands driven by consumers, and Myanmar is no exception. In recent years, the Asian region has shown an insatiable appetite for innovation and technology, making it a hub of activity and a magnet for global enterprise and investment – with abundant opportunities across all ICT, satellite and telecommunication industries, as Myanmar plays catch-up with its ASEAN neighbours.

The recently isolated Southeast Asian country, formerly known as Burma, is home to the region’s least-developed telecommunications infrastructure. Myanmar has a population of more than 51 million people, yet despite this telephone penetration levels are among the lowest anywhere in the world – with mobile users growing beyond 25% and internet and fixed line usage in the region of 2%.

The country is still at the threshold of take-off, both in the supply of essential services in the key metropolitan areas, and in first stage service availability across the whole country. With the tele-density of the country targeted to reach 75% by the end of the 2015/2016 financial year, the opportunities for telecom suppliers are bright, especially since the ISP, broadband, banking and broadcasting markets are opening up.

2014: A big year for Myanmar’s telecommunications industry

2014 saw Myanmar’s first communications technology, enterprise and convergence solutions show, CommuniCast, take place in Yangon and, with support from the Myanmar government the event put the country’s emerging and fast-developing ICT industry on the map. A second event, set to take place later this year, confirms the demand and interest in the development of Myanmar’s telecommunications industry and will once again provide a professional platform for those in the industry to meet and exchange ideas.

When the country’s Ministry of Communications & Information Technology (MCIT) announced that it was taking bids for the right to build its first mobile networks, it received a huge response from more than 90 applicants. The recent launch of mobile services by the two international licence winners Ooredoo and Telenor, and the reinvigoration of the incumbent operator MPT, by its tie-up with KDDI and Sumitimi, has changed the competitive landscape of the industry.

The three mobile operators, plus a fourth pending take-up, are expected to spend over US $5 billion over nine years to build out their networks, with the aim to increase the mobile penetration level from under 25% to 90% by 2019.

The Myanmar government has not only emphasised its support for the developing ICT industry through the liberalisation of the mobile market but also through the issuing of an unlimited number of Internet Service Provider (ISP) licences. Since mid-November 2014, 45 ISPs have applied for licences, with more than 12 already being issued. Amongst these 12, four are tower companies, two are fibre optic network providers, and six are infrastructure and private companies.

The next step

In spite of the new roll out of mobile licences and ISP licences, Myanmar’s ICT backbone is still in its infancy. The liberalisation of the mobile and ISP markets are just the first steps in the forward development of the country’s ICT industry.

Further plans for major changes in the broader access and media markets are currently underway, with the expected passing of a new broadcasting law to open up the country’s media industry and encourage the distribution of new services. This will facilitate the launch of new media channels, although there will be strict control on cross-ownership and foreign ownership will be permitted to 30%. While the Myanmar government is keen to work with other countries to fulfil Myanmar’s ICT industry potential, the traditional aspects of the country’s media industry will remain with a strong demand for the creation of Myanmar language and culture-based content.

Following the success of last year’s CommuniCast event and the announcement of a second event in November, the Myanmar government has sent a strong message to the world that it is committed to infrastructure development on a truly massive scale. Broadband penetration in Myanmar currently stands at just 2%, but it seems like all of that is set to change with the preparation of an ICT master plan. The plan, which will also include a programme for the national roll out of broadband, is set to take place in the second half of this year.

Satellite sovereignty continues to be a key theme which came out of last year’s event which was host to the country’s first Satellite Forum. The Myanmar government has since outlined plans to launch its own satellite within five years with an ‘open, fair and transparent tendering process’. In addition to supporting mobile network backhaul, satellite services will be crucial for supporting key sectors including defence, education, health, banking, mining and agriculture. CommuniCast 2015 will continue to focus on this during the country’s second Myanmar Satellite Forum on 18th November 2015.

A market full of opportunities

With the anticipated deregulation of the broadcasting market, the preparation of an ICT master plan and the launch of unlimited ISP licences, Myanmar has already come a long way to securing its future as a hub of innovation and technology.

The ambitious plans for leapfrogging the digital divide and increasing the tele-density within the country to 75% of the population by the end of the 2015/2016 financial year, offers ongoing opportunities in the build-out of the core infrastructure as well as many new areas of growth.

The CommuniCast event last year set a new benchmark for projecting the forward development of the country’s ICT industry. Following the huge success of CommuniCast 2014, the event will be joining forces with the International ICT Fair for its return in 2015 – emphasising the demand for a professional platform for the emerging and fast-developing Myanmar ICT industry to meet. The co-location of events provides the opportunity for the full spectrum of the ICT economy to be under one roof, from satellite and broadband through to mobile and enterprise solutions.

With profiles for the second event reflecting the needs on the ground, the organisers of the event are hoping that the co-location of the events will help push the country’s ICT industry further forward and provide the solutions for fulfilling Myanmar’s ICT industry potential.

The CommuniCast Myanmar event will return from 17-19 November 2015 at Myanmar Event Park, Yangon. The second Myanmar Satellite Forum will be held on the 18th November.