Monthly Archives: January 2017

Mytel to target rual areas and compete on price


U Zaw Min Oo speaks at the Mytel press conference. Photo: Aung Kyaw Nyunt / The Myanmar Times

Mytel is made up of Vietnam defence ministry owned-firm Viettel, a consortium of 11 local firms and a subsidiary of military-run Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC) called Star High Public Company.

MEC also owns operator MECtel, and Mytel will make use of that operator’s existing infrastructure, said U Zaw Min Oo, Mytel’s external relations officer. Details of the infrastructure were unavailable, but telecom industry sources told The Myanmar Times last year that Star High Public Company had access to 1000 towers and more than 13,000 kilometres (8100 miles) of fibre, among other telecoms assets.

Mytel, which received Myanmar’s fourth telecoms licence on January 12, will also use the AAE 1 (Asia-Africa-Europe) submarine cable “so we will not have to worry about internet bandwidth”, said U Zaw Min Oo.

AAE 1 is owned by a consortium of international carriers, with MPT acting as a “co-landing party” for the cable’s connection to Myanmar, according to a senior technical manager at MPT, who asked to remain anonymous.

MPT is not participating directly in AAE 1, however, and does not plan to make use of the cable for additional bandwidth, the technical manager said. But MPT is part of the consortium that built the 20,000 kilometer Southeast Asia–Middle East–Western Europe 5 cable, which was finished late last year.

Mytel, meanwhile, will concentrate on extending their coverage in rural areas and will offer 2G, 3G and 4G services, said U Zaw Min Oo. As far as business plans go, the new firm seems intent on competing on cost.

“Now operators are racing [to compete] with price or services charges,” he said. “So I think that we should reduce services charges [to be less] than other operators, although we cannot announce prices yet.”

Telenor and MPT both still offer 2G services, while Oordeoo entered the market with 3G. All three operators also offer 3G and a limited 4G service.

Source : Myanmar Times

Ayeyawady dolphins population to be updated











Ayeyawady dolphins population to be updated.

To prevent the extinction of dolphins and to update their population in Ayeyawady River between Bhamo and Mandalay, a survey will be conducted by the Fisheries Department together with Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said U Han Win, a Dolphin Specialist from Mandalay Fisheries Department.
According to 2016 February data, there were 65 dolphins in Mandalay and Bhamo towns, three died within 2016.
“The Ayeyawady dolphins are listed as scarce species. We will update the population of dolphin this year because we want to know the exact number of dolphins to prevent their extinction, he added.
Although there are 25 dolphins in Mandalay area and 40 dolphins in Bhamo town, three dolphins died: one on 15 August, the other on 13 September and the third one on 13 November.
“Data will be collected with the use of a small boat and a ship. When they are searching the dolphin, they will use the GPS system, 7×50 mm lens, depth meter, sounder and cameras,” said the WCS manager. The Ayeyawady dolphins will come up to the water surface every 30 to 60 secs. The Ayeyawady dolphins do not jump like the sea dolphins, they only swim slowly, it is learnt.

Aung Thant Khine

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Central Bank plans level playing field for foreign payment firms

A Visa payment sign sits on a reception desk at a restaurant in Yangon. Photo: AFPA Visa payment sign sits on a reception desk at a restaurant in Yangon. Photo: AFP
CB Bank and KBZ have both partnered with Visa following the Central Bank’s decision to allow foreign payment firms to operate independently in Myanmar. But the Central Bank has clarified that this is a select response to requests from four specific firms, not an official shift in policy.
Visa and KBZ issued a joint press release on January 12 announcing their partnership, and that as a result Myanmar citizens would be able to make payments at any one of Visa’s global network of around 40 million outlets and at more than 3500 outlets in Myanmar.

“Before this [Central Bank] announcement, international card providers have not been allowed to provide services domestically,” the release said.  

U Win Thaw, director general of the bank’s Foreign Exchange Management Department, initially declined to comment on the Visa press release because he said that aspects of it were incorrect.

He referred questions to the Payment and Settlement System Department, which said that in fact the Central Bank had made no “official announcement”.

“It is not like an announcement that the Central Bank is allowing all international companies to operate in the domestic payment service industry,” said department director general Daw Than Than Swe. “But Visa, MasterCard, JCB and Union Pay requested permission.”

Although the KBZ-Visa press released said that international card providers had not been able to provide services in Myanmar, in fact firms like JCB and Union Pay are already providing debit and credit card services to banks like KBZ, CB Bank and AYA Bank.

These cards, however, are co-branded with the international firm providing access to its international network and local company Myanmar Payment Union (MPU) supporting domestic payments.

CB Bank launched an international credit card in June 2016 branded with the MPU and UnionPay International stamps. A few months later AYA Bank became the first bank to issue a dual-branded JCB-MPU card.

 “Foreign companies were already allowed to do co-branding with local companies,” said Daw Than Than Swe. “But now they are asking permission [for access to the domestic market] saying they don’t want to work with co-branding.”

The regulator granted this request and is allowing these companies to offer services without cooperating with MPU, she said. But any other international payment firm would have to seek permission first before entering the market.

“We have granted permission to these four firms, but it is likely that [we] will have to create a level playing field for other international organisations if they for ask permission.”

KBZ and Visa said their first product would be released “soon”.  

CB Bank announced its intention to issue Visa cards on January 17. Like KBZ, the card can be used to make kyat-denominated transactions in Myanmar, and foreign currency payments overseas.

“Anyone can apply for credit card,” said CB’s general manager U Zayar Aung. “But we limit the spending amount depending on applicant’s monthly income and other conditions.”

CB Bank is also planning to double its number of domestic ATM terminals, and has hired German firm Diebold Nixdorf to help provide cardless cash withdrawls at ATMs, according to a press release issued yesterday. CB Bank customers will be able to use their mobile devices to generate a one-time PIN number to withdraw money, it said.

Source : Myanmar Times

Myanmar’s fourth telco gets licence at last

MNTC spokesperson U Zaw Min Oo speaks to reporters in Nay Pyi Taw yesterday. Photo: Pyae That Phyo / The Myanmar Times
At long last Myanmar’s fourth telecoms operator has its licence, but the brand name under which it will operate remains under wraps and the firm will only begin providing services in 2018, according to its external relations officer.

The Ministry of Transport and Communication formally awarded the firm – Myanmar National Tele & Communications (MNTC) – a licence yesterday in Nay Pyi Taw, U Than Htun Aung, director of the ministry’s Posts and Telecommunications Department, told The Myanmar Times.

MNTC is a tie up between Vietnam defence ministry owned-firm Viettel, a consortium of 11 local firms called Myanmar National Telecom Holding Public, and a subsidiary of military-run Myanmar Economic Corporation called Star High Public Company.

More than a year has passed since the government first announced a tender for international firms to join with a consortium to form a fourth operator. But anyone hoping that the licence ceremony would yield more clarity about the new operator’s business plans may be disappointed.

U Zaw Min Oo, chief external relations officer for MNTC and also a director of one of the firms in the Myanmar consortium, said that the telco could start issuing SIM cards later this year, but that it would only launch services in 2018.

“It will take at least 12 months to get ready,” he said. He would not disclose the brand name under which the new compnay will market it services, but said more details would follow at a press conference on January 14 in Yangon.

The new telco joins state-owned incumbent MPT and foreign firms Telenor and Ooredoo in the Myanmar market. But after almost three years of rapid growth the rate at which those firms are adding customers is slowing, and most of the areas yet to be served by a telecoms network are remote and rural.

Telenor CEO Lars Erik Tellmann said last year that almost everyone in Myanmar who wants a SIM card already has one, and that competition is shifting towards data services and quality.

“Our company is the last one to enter the market and almost everyone has SIM cards,” said U Zaw Min Oo at a press conference after the licence ceremony. “But we will do our best in this market, and we will try to ensure our communication networks reaches 95 percent of the population.”

U Zaw Min Oo said the operator plans to spend US$80 million on social welfare activities during its 15 year licence term. MNTC has paid $300 million for its licence, substantially less than Telenor or Oordoo.

“The government fixed the $300 million fee because [MNTSC] entered the market later than the other operators so that they have less market share,” said U Myo Swe, deputy director from Department of Post and Telecommunications.

Telenor paid just over $500 million for its licence and Ooredoo just over $1 billion, said U Myo Swe. Those firms received their licences in February 2014, following an application process where each set a fee they were willing to pay without knowledge of what other applications were offering.

Source : Myanmar Times

MEC to check earthquake resistance of Bagan pagodas in 2017

​A file photo shows Dhammayangyi Temple in Bagan, Mandalay Region.

The Myanmar Earthquake Committee (MEC) will check that pagodas in ancient Bagan, Nyang U District, Mandalay Region can withstand future temblors.

“Earthquakes shook Myanmar ancient pagodas last year, causing extensive damage. We take measures that the Ministry of Religious Affairs and Culture and the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) will renovate the damaged pagodas. And we will check the earthquake resistance of Bagan pagodas. We are currently assessing how to conduct these activities,” said U Myo Thant, the secretary of MEC.

“We will submit our suggestion on which pagodas need to be renovated based on the assessment to the department concerned.”

The earthquake on 24th August damaged 258 vaunted temples, 104 pagodas and 13 brick monasteries. MEC will lead the assessment activity in cooperation with Myanmar Engineering Society (MES).

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar

Eleven hotels to emerge in Chin State in 2016-17 FY


A file photo shows an aerial view of Tiddim City, Chin State.

ELEVEN hotels will be established in six townships in Chin State next fiscal year, said Salai Isac Khin, Chin State Minister for Municipal Affairs, Electricity and Industry.

About 30 local entrepreneurs submitted their proposal to build 39 hotel facilities in the state to the government.

The local authorities permitted some of them to construct a total of 11 hotels in target towns including three hotels in Haka Township, two hotels in Falam Township, further two hotels in Tiddim Township, one hotel in Khaingkan Township, two hotels in Matupi Township and one hotel in Paletwa Township.

Apart from Khaingkan, the government will provide land plot for hotel projects, which will be implemented with the investment of local entrepreneurs within three months starting from the time they received green light from the authorities.

The selected companies include KL Amazing Co, King Solomon Co, Chan Tha Shwe Mye Co, Adventures Myanmar Co, Falam Cherry Co, Unique Asia Gate Construction Co, Shwe Sin Nan Daw Co, Sweet Hotel Group, Shwepyitagkhon Co, Chindwin Ayeya Co, Taungzalat Hotel Co and one other.

Apart from Kanpetlet and Mindat townships, there is no hotel-level accommodation facility in other towns in Chin State.

Source : Global New Light of Myanmar