Norwegian-backed cellco Telenor Myanmar has launched commercial mobile services with initial coverage of the nation’s second largest city, Mandalay, although the operator intends to extend services to Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon within the next fortnight. In a statement on Friday, Telenor said it was planning to roll out mobile services to 90% of the population within five years, accessible via 100,000 points of sale. At launch, there were 1,500 Telenor-branded outlets in Mandalay, offering SIM cards for MMK1,500 (USD1.48). In terms of pricing, Telenor is charging MMK25 per minute for on- and off-net calls – fellow newcomer to the Myanmar market, Qatari-backed Ooredoo Myanmar charges the same for on-net minutes, but slightly higher rates (MMK35) for off-net calls – whilst SMS cost Telenor Myanmar users MMK15 to any network. Prices for mobile internet services vary depending on access speed: MMK6 per MB for 300kbps and MMK10 per MB at 2Mbps. Access to social media site Facebook and encyclopaedia Wikipedia is free for a limited time.
Following recent SIM shortages for Ooredoo and incumbent Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT), U Khine Soe, Telenor’s Regional Head of Sales for North Myanmar, explained: ‘We have sufficient amounts of SIM cards available so there is enough for everyone. A Telenor SIM card fits into any GSM phone so it is easy to get started and at affordable call rates, this truly is a mobile service for everyone. All our distributors and shops selling Telenor products are eager to get started this weekend.’ Eleven Myanmar writes that the government has threatened to take action against mobile phone shops if they force sales of SIM cards with handsets, or charge inflated rates for the SIMs. Deputy ICT minister Win Tin told parliament that companies found to be breaking rules on sales would have their licences revoked.