LIVE FROM GSMA MOBILE 360-MIDDLE EAST: Ooredoo will take a 3G-only approach to mobile services in Myanmar once it switches on networks in what has been described as Asia’s last untapped mobile opportunity.
“In Myanmar we are trying to leapfrog the [second-generation] technology,” Nasser Marafih (pictured), CEO of Ooredoo, said in a keynote session this morning. “As a group we will go straight to 3G and bypass 2G.”
Marafih said this won’t be without its challenges, most notably the supply of affordable 3G handsets. “One of the barriers to mobile services is handsets,” he commented. “When we launched 3G in others markets we realised consumers still used 2G services because the 3G handsets were so expensive.”
Another challenges is that there is a serious lack of reliable power in the country.
Nonetheless, Marafih said he was excited about the prospect of operating in Myanmar, a country with approximately 10 per cent mobile penetration (the world’s third least mobile-penetrated market).
He also hinted that Ooredoo may team up with other operators to ensure speedy rollout of services: “There is a need for more collaboration between operators – especially on things that could be shared, like infrastructure. A lot of people are still not connected.”
As this report from GSMA Intelligence noted, Norway’s Telenor and Qatar-based Ooredoo secured licences earlier this year in a ‘beauty contest’ process, which garnered international attention as a route into one of the world’s last untapped mobile markets.