Myanmar Telecoms

Telecomuncations in Myanmar

telecommunications in myanmar

Over the last six years Myanmar telecommunications market has been transformed. Formerly one of the most underdeveloped markets in Asia, Myanmar has experienced unprecedented growth in mobile and mobile broadband services. Foreign investment has been the driving force behind a telecoms boom that is reshaping the economy, creating downstream opportunities and a platform for innovation. While fixed broadband penetration remain extremely low, Myanmar’s mobile market has become increasingly dynamic and competitive. Since 2014, Myanmar’s three largest telcos, MPT, Ooredoo and Telenor have served in excess of 50 million mobile subscribers giving Myanmar a mobile penetration rate of close to 95%. Strong growth is predicted in the near term, with telco’s delivering ever faster network speeds and connectivity. Myanmar had in excess of 14,500 cell towers by mid-2018, but industry experts estimate the country will need at least 8,000 to 9,000 new towers in the coming years as smartphone penetration soars.

The Telecoms Law

The Telecommunications Law No. 31/2013 (“Telecoms Law”) was introduced on 8 October 2013, providing a modern regulatory framework for Myanmar’s telecommunications sector. The Telecoms Law regulates network facility services, network service providers and application service providers.

The Licensing Rules

The Telecoms Law is supplemented by Notification No. 16/2014 (Licensing Rules) issued by the then Ministry of Communications and Information Technology of the Union Government (MCIT), which introduced rules and regulations in respect of licensing as well as the implementing regulations to the Telecoms Law. The Telecoms Law and Licensing Rule have been augmented by the following legislation

Legislation

Date

Notification No. 1/2015

Interconnection and Access Rules

6 January 2015

Notification No. 21/2015

Telecoms Competition Rules

9 June 2015

Notification No. 49/2015

The Numbering Rules

3 December 2015

Notification No. 10/2016

The Spectrum Rules

7 March 2016

MCIT reorganized as Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC)

Notification No. 9/2016 (25 May 2016)

MOTC Notice

Technical Specifications for Short Range Device

17 July 2016

MOTC Notice

Guidelines on the Provision of International Gateway Services

8 September 2016

MOTC Notice

Telecommunications Numbering Plan

31 January 2017

MOTC Notice

The Technical Specification and Quality of Service for International Gateway Service

5 April 2017

MOTC Notice

Draft Myanmar Communications Regulatory Commission Law (MCRC Law)

15 May 2017

Law No – 26, 2017

The Law Amending the Telecommunication Law

18 August 2017

 

Telecoms Regulation

The Posts and Telecommunications Department (“Telecommunications Department”) under the Ministry of Transport and Communications (“MOTC”) is the telecommunications regulator in Myanmar.

The responsibilities of the Telecommunications Department include:-

  • the issuance and renewal of service provider licences;

  • regulation of the frequency spectrum and numbering plans;

  • ensuring consumer protection;

  • inspection and supervision of service providers;

  • initiating administrative actions against service providers.

As part of sector reforms the MOTC is authorised to establish the following bodies:-

National Telecommunications Advisory Committee

Make recommendations on technical standards, consumer protection and strategic development of the telecommunications sector in Myanmar,

National Telecommunications Advisory Committee

To hear administrative appeals against the MOTC’s decisions.

 

Investment Regime

Pursuant to Notification No. 13/2017 issued by the Myanmar Investment Commission pursuant to the Myanmar Investment Law (MIL) the manufacture of telecommunications equipment, installation of telecommunication lines, the construction of telecommunication towers, the conducting of business related to regional fiber lines and the provision of telecommunication services are classified as ‘Promoted’ economic activities. Investors can avail of the full range of incentives contained in the MIL.

Foreign ownership

Foreign entities are permitted to apply for licences under the Telecoms Law. The Licensing Rules define a foreign entity as a legal entity in which a non-Myanmar citizen or foreign company, holds either a direct or indirect, controlling interest. of more than 50% of the interest in the entity. Note this definition differs from the definition of a ‘foreign company’ under the Myanmar Companies Law (which applies a 30% foreign ownership threshold).

Telecoms licence holders

Licencee

Awarded

Ownership

Term

Subscribers
(millions)

MPT
Myanma Posts and Telecommunications

March 2015

State owned enterprise under the supervision of Ministry of Transport and Communication. MPT entered into a Joint Operations Agreement with KSGM, whose ultimate ownership is held by KDDI Corporation (Japan) and Sumitomo Corporation (Japan)

15 years
(renewable for additional 15 years)

25

Telenor

Telenor Myanmar Limited

February 2014

Telenor ASA (Norway)

15 years
(renewable for additional 15 years)

19

Ooredoo

Ooredoo Myanmar Limited

February 2014

Ooredoo Group (Qatar)

15 years
(renewable for additional 15 years)

9

MyTel

Myanmar National Tele & Communications Co. Limited

January 2017

Joint-venture between the Viettel Group (Vietnam) (49%), Star High Telecom Limited (28%) (Myanmar) and Myanmar National Telecom Holding Company (23%)

15 years
(renewable for additional 15 years)

1

 

Licensing Regime

Service licences

In order to provide network facility services, network services or application services, local or foreign invested companies must obtain a service licence (“Service Licence”) from the Telecommunications Department.

There are two categories of Service Licence

Network facility service licence
(individual licence or class licence)

“Class Licence” permits the licensee to engage in all services covered by the network facility service licence, network service licence and application service licence without having to separately apply for those respective licences (“Individual licence” covers select services only)

Telecommunications equipment licences

Permits licencee to use or possess certain telecommunications equipment

Separate approvals apply to fixed line, mobile and satellite services providers.

According to the Licensing Rules, fixed line service providers (FL providers) must obtain approval from the Department before providing fixed line services. In its application to the Department, an FL provider must also submit an interference study to determine whether its operations interfere with prior authorised FL providers. If the Department approves the application, the Department will forward the application to the MOTC, as well as the Myanmar government in the case of foreign applicants, for its final approval. Once approved, the approved FL provider may be subject to a number of obligations in its licence, such as only operating in approved frequencies, payment of licensing fees and minimum path length requirements.

Mobile

Based on the Licensing Rules, a mobile service provider (mobile provider) must obtain approval from the Department before providing mobile services. If the Department approves the application, the Department will forward the application to the MOTC, as well as the Myanmar government in the case of foreign applicants, for its final approval. Once approved, the mobile provider may be subject to a number of obligations in its licence, such as only operating in approved frequencies, registration of all towers and antenna structures as well as providing its services only in a certain geographical location.

Satellite

Pursuant to the Licensing Rules, a satellite service provider (satellite provider) must obtain approval from the Department before providing satellite services. In its application to the Department, a satellite provider must also submit a sharing study for bands shared with FL providers in order to avoid interference. If the Department approves the application, the Department will forward the application to the MOTC, as well as the Myanmar government in the case of foreign applicants, for its final approval.

Internet services

Pursuant to the Licensing Rules, an internet service provider must obtain approval from the Department before providing internet services. If the Department approves the application, it will forward the application to the MOTC, as well as the Myanmar government in the case of foreign applicants, for its final approval.

The Spectrum Rules

According to the Spectrum Rules, the procedure for authorising the right to use radio spectrum, conditions for authorisation of spectrum rights and spectrum fees shall be determined by the Department after public consultation.

Radio spectrum may be issued by auction, by tender or by a fixed price. Spectrum licences may only be transferred or assigned upon prior written approval from the Department. The transferee will need to comply with any relevant requirements as stipulated in the Telecoms Law and the applicable regulations.

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