The big change in Myanmar’s telecom sector has been the entry of two foreign operators in the local mobile market, joining the former monopoly operator, Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT). Buoyed by the success of the arrival of Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor, by 2015 the government was looking to issue a fourth and final telecom licence.

Much work remains to be done however, with Myanmar being the last underdeveloped telecommunication markets in Asia. Despite the fresh new focus on mobile services and the exploding growth in that sector, by 2015 only a few people had access to a fixed telephone line. Although the first internet connections were established back in 2000, internet services in Myanmar still remain slow and unstable. Of course, as affordable mobile services are now becoming widely available from MPT, Ooredoo and Telenor the market is changing, especially with respect to internet access. Mobile penetration has risen from less than 3% in 2011 to over 70% in 2015.

As already indicated, major changes have been taking place in Myanmar’s telecom sector as the market undergoes a level of liberalisation. The initial round of reforms certainly happened quickly with the issuing of new telecom operating licences and the allowing of international companies to enter the market.

Myanmar’s telecom sector has been a major driving force behind a rise in the country’s Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) in 2014/2015, with Telenor and Ooredoo investing in infrastructure, as well as fulfilling their fiscal obligations under the licensing agreements. In the first five months of the 2014/15 fiscal year, telecoms accounted for 31% of total FDI of US$3.32 billion, becoming the biggest single component in direct capital inflows, according to the Myanmar Investment Commission. The flow eased in the latter half of the year, but still attracted a quarter of all FDI during the year, ranking it second only to the energy sector.

For more information see - Myanmar (Burma) - Telecoms, Mobile and Internet