India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel announced it is funding a 6,500km fiber-optic cable between India and Myanmar to improve internet connectivity in the country, which opened up to outside competition in the telecoms sector two years ago.
Airtel did not disclose the size of its investment or its partners in the terrestrial cable, which will connect from Myanmar to its landing station in Chennai on the east coast and carry on to Mumbai on the west coast, the Economic Times reported.
Ajay Chitkara, Airtel’s director of global voice and data business, told the Times that Myanmar is seeing rapid uptake of digital services and offers “a massive business growth and revenue opportunity” for the company.
In addition to targeting the retail market, he said the cable will enable Airtel to meet the capacity requirements of its enterprise customers in the region.
Myanmar became one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world and now has 51 million mobile connections, up from about eight million in Q3 2014 when Telenor and Ooredoo entered the market. Mobile penetration reached the 60 per cent level in early 2016, and smartphone penetration soared to nearly 70 per cent as the vast majority of new subscribers start with entry-level smartphones.