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MTel awarded fixed line licence at last

4 Jun 2013

Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de MTel Ltda (MTel) was yesterday awarded Macau’s second fixed line telecoms operating licence, after a longer-than-expected delay of more than a year, allowing it to roll out services in competition with incumbent Companhia de Telecomunicacoes de Macau (CTM). MTel’s chairman Michael Choi told media yesterday that the delay meant the new entrant missed out on the opportunity of laying underground fibre-optic network cables more effectively by taking advantage of infrastructure projects launched last year, such as public housing and light rapid transit railway works, reports However, Mr Choi added later that ‘We have also heard of other infrastructure plans like the laying of a natural gas grid or drainage pipes… We will see how to adjust our network cable setting in tandem with those projects through a better coordination with the government departments.’ Lawrence Tou Veng Keong, director of Macau’s Bureau of Telecommunications Regulation (DSRT), said it had taken time to ensure that MTel’s network building would not impose too great an impact on the city’s road conditions and traffic, adding that ‘I cannot see that [the delay] has imposed any negative impact on MTel’s input to the market.’

MTel intends to deliver a plan to the government for building its fibre-optic network ‘very soon’, while services lined up include local and international leased line and data services, plus consumer cloud computing services. According to its licence conditions (subject to alteration) the licensee is obliged to roll out network coverage of 30% of residential buildings at launch, which must be within 18 months of receiving the concession. The company also has two years from today to set up its own network covering all of Macau’s schools and universities. Failure to meet these requirements could result in a maximum fine of MOP500,000 (USD62,500), Mr Tou said. MTel previously stated the intention to offer tariffs 30% lower than CTM’s charges, but Mr Choi admitted that proposed tariffs would need to be prepared in light of CTM’s recent tariff drops. ‘We will always stick to our original aim to provide a more competitive price for our telecom services,’ Choi added. He also said that total investment in the venture might exceed an original target of MOP1 billion, while expecting to break even in 2018 – only two or three years before the concession ends in 2021. He also clarified that ZTE (Hong Kong) Ltd and Yangtze Optical Fibre & Cable Company Ltd, which are partnering MTel in its rollout and supplying it with equipment, are not shareholders or directors in the company. The executive said that MTel’s major shareholders are three Macau companies who will finance the investment, but declined to name the firms.

TeleGeography’s GlobalComms Database notes that MTel was the sole company to submit an application for a fixed line licence by the deadline of 27 March 2012.

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