Vietnam’s largest operator Viettel, which last month was named the foreign partner for a local consortium awarded Myanmar’s fourth mobile licence, aims to build out nationwide network coverage within the first year of operation and extend access to 95 per cent of the population within three years.

The consortium of 11 local firms plans to invest a total $1.5 billion to roll out a 3G-only network in 900MHz and 2.1GHz bands. Viettel said it aims to launch 4G services on the 1.8GHz band in the future, subject to additional licensing.

Viettel was one of seven foreign bidders to express an interest in a tender, which opened at the end of last year.

The county’s telecoms sector was opened up to foreign competition in late 2013, when Telenor and Ooredoo won mobile licences. They run mobile networks alongside state-owned incumbent MPT, which operates as a joint venture with Japan’s KDDI and Sumitomo.

Myanmar’s mobile connections increased 150 per cent over the past year to 37.5 million, according to GSMA Intelligence.

“We enter Myanmar when the country is forecast to witness accelerated economic growth, enhanced also through increased foreign direct investment,” said Le Dang Dung (pictured below), deputy general director of Viettel Group.
Le Dang Dung Viettel Group
“Advancing the country’s telecoms infrastructure will help us drive a surge in mobile and smartphone subscription penetration, to achieve the government’s target of reaching 90 per cent of the population by 2020. We believe that the role of telecommunications is fundamental in driving Myanmar’s next phase of economic growth.”

He said with the combined strengths of Viettel’s experience across markets, and the long-standing experience of its domestic partners, the consortium will cater to the demand for affordable and high-quality data services in the country.

“Viettel has played a key role in transforming Vietnam’s telecommunications landscape over the past several decades. As we apply that experience through our operations in Vietnam and nine global markets, our vision continues to be to extend connectivity to entire populations, providing unrestricted access across rural and urban geographies,” Dung said.

Viettel is run by the military and claims to serve nearly 80 million subscribers in ten countries in Asia, Africa and the Americas.