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Telenor aims high in Myanmar despite late debut

Telenor Myanmar - which is slated to enter the country's mobile-phone market next month - is confident its services will satisfy local consumers and allow it to reach 90 per cent of the population within five years.

Chief executive Petter Furberg said the services would be launched in three major cities including Yangon and Mandalay before the end of September, slightly ahead of the October 5 deadline it committed to in the licence agreement.

Telenor will introduce millions of SIM cards to coincide with the launch.

"Our goal is to reach 90 per cent of the population in Myanmar within five years and we will do so by partnering with thousands of local retailers, distributors and franchisees to build an extensive and wide-reaching distribution network that will ensure that the company's latest products and services are affordable and accessible to customers throughout the country," he said.

Telenor's launch will be about a month behind Qatari telecom firm Ooredoo's full commercial launch in the country. Ooredoo won two of the new licences. A Telenor source said more than a million SIM cards had been sold since their debut on July 31. However, there are reports of complaints over lower-than-expected service quality.

While Ooredoo has focused on second-generation cellular, Telenor's SIM cards will work with any GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) phone (2G and 3G).

Furberg insisted there would be enough SIM cards to meet demand and their price would remain at 1,500 kyat (Bt49). A voice call should cost no more than 25 kyat per minute, he said.

"An extensive distribution network will be the backbone of our mass-market approach. As part of Telenor Myanmar's network-roll-out plan, we will recruit distributors and franchisees in each and every state and region in Myanmar with the goal of establishing a network of 100,000 retailers within five years of the network and service roll-out," he said.

"These partners will include mum-and-pop shops and other small businesses, and will sell a wide range of Telenor's mobile communications products and services, such as SIM cards, recharge vouchers and other value-added services, at locations convenient to our customers."

Furberg is confident the company's products will be warmly welcomed by consumers. He is banking on the track record of its services in many Asian countries.

He said service quality was assured, with total funding from Norway-based Telenor Group, which had mobile operations in 13 markets and another 17 markets through VimpelCom. Telenor has a 33-per-cent stake in VimpelCom.

He said Telenor remained focused on fulfilling its promise to provide innovative, high-quality and accessible mobile communications services to the mass market.

"We are committed to serving as a catalyst for development in each and every market in which we operate and we hope to do the same for Myanmar," he said.

Myanmar's telecom-market potential is immense, as the government aims to boost the telecom penetration rate from below 10 per cent at present to 50 per cent by next year.


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