State-owned company Vietnam Mobile Telecom Services Company (VMS) says it wants to bring cell phone prices down to affordable levels for Burmese consumers, and it is preparing to enter the telecom market, state-run media reported on Wednesday.
vnptlogoBurma has started a reform process in the telecommunication field that will lead to an upgrade of telephone and Internet services in the country, while driving international investments and lowering prices in the country, officials said earlier this year.
Aimed at expanding its business in the untapped Burmese market, a delegation, headed by Le Ngoc Minh, the vice president of Vietnam Post and Telecommunication Group (VNPT) and VMS chair, visited Burma recently.
Officials said the company wants to help transform the mobile services market from being a luxury that only a few Burmese can afford to an everyday service that all can use on regular basis. Company officials did not discuss the pricing of a mobile phone service in Burma.
“This visit helps us to get a closer view on the cultural and reform similarity between the two nations. Myanmar telecom reform will be, without doubt, an important opportunity and a historic turn point not only for telecom but also for Myanmar socio- economic development,” Le said during his visit.
VMS was founded in 1993 as the first GSM 900/1800 and 3G mobile operator in Vietnam. VMS sells services under the MobiFone brand, and has been voted as the most favourite network in Vietnam for six consecutive years since 2006.
Vietnam’s investment in Burma hit $ 23.649 million as of November, 2011 since the country opened to foreign investment in late 1988, according to official statistics.
Minister Thein Tun of the Post and Telecommunication told Parliament earlier this year a bidding process will be held for foreign companies eager to get into Burma’s chronically weak telephone and Internet services.
Burma has very low Internet penetration rate due to both government restrictions on pricing and deliberate lack of facilities and infrastructure, according to observers. Official statistics say the country may have 400,000 Internet users with the vast majority from the two largest cities, Rangoon and Mandalay.
Although around 50 cities across the country are believed to have access to the Internet, the number of users outside Rangoon and Mandalay is very small. Some estimates say 96 percent of the country’s near 60 million population lack telephone or Internet services.
Communication infrastructure is a major obstacle in developing Burma, and few people can afford a mobile phone or computer.
Thein Tun said the state-owned telephone operator Myanma Posts and Telecommunications and Internet provider Yatanarpon Teleport plan to create joint ventures after the tender process.