Viettel to negotiate with military-backed firm for fourth telco license

YANGON — The government has given the green light for Viettel to enter joint venture negotiations with the military-backed Star High Public Company Ltd. and a local consortium for Myanmar’s fourth telecommunications license.

The Joint Venture Formation and Tender Selection Working Committee announced on Friday that the Hanoi-based telco was the preferred applicant from five international operators to express interest in the license.

Star High Public Company will operate under the supervision of the Ministry of Defence, according to Friday’s announcement.

“By providing access to an existing telecom network and its related assets (up to 1,000 towers and around 13,000 kilometres of fibre-optic network), Star High Public Company Limited is expected to facilitate the construction of the Fourth Operator network and accelerate its commercial launch,” the announcement said.

It is believed that Star High Public Company will use assets owned by MECtel, a military-owned telco with an extensive CDMA mobile network operating under Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT).

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MECtel is owned by the Myanmar Economic Corporation, a military conglomerate under the Ministry of Defence.

Star High is expected to hold 51 percent in the joint venture with Viettel, a state-owned enterprise wholly owned and operated by Vietnam’s Ministry of Defence, to take a 49 percent stake.

The committee said on Friday it expected joint venture negotiations to be concluded in May, with approval and signing of the final agreement to take place in June.

The license will grant the new telco operator 2x5MHz in the 900MHz frequency range and 2x10MHz in the 2,100MHz frequency range at a reference price of US$300 million, as set by the Posts and Telecommunications Department of the Ministry of Communications.

This allocation is on par with Ooredoo and Telenor, the other two international telecommunications firms operating in Myanmar, who were granted operating licenses in February 2014.

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