“You have managed to put together a very informative issue, perhaps the most comprehensive so far, unless I have missed something in between. India’s weakness has proved to be China’s strength. We have been so weak in establishing communication links, and what we do has been of such unsatisfactory standards, that one feels ashamed. After travelling on the much touted Friendship Road built by India between Tamu on Manipur border and Kale, when some UN colleagues who were with me remarked is this the famous road, with potholes already appearing within a few years of its completion, I did not know where to look. We have to do better. Our plans look grand but execution is all so deficient. Compared to this, China inishes what it announces in record time. Look at the gas pipeline. We have to perk up, unless we want to fall irretrievably behind. But you are doing great.
Thanks very much.”
Bhaskar Barua, APPL
“Thank you for the latest Volume of Myanmar Matters– great reading and a lot of information.”
Sasanka Kumar Dutta, BTFF
“I must say that the second issue is as informative and as attractive as the first one. Personally I perceive a plethora of opportunities exist in Myanmar for entrepreneurs, professionals and the like. At this stage my feedback is limited to congratulations and best wishes only! I am ready and willing to participate and contribute in any such endeavours.”
“Interesting and fascinating coverage. Lot of material….Quite a bit of work.”
Myanmar, formerly known as Burma, is infamous for pervasive human rights violations committed by a military junta which has been ruling the country for decades. Perhaps it is therefore not surprising that Human Rights Watch, the international non-governmental organization that conducts research and advocacy on human rights, has complained that a contemplated telecommunications law would also be violating the freedom of expression.
In large part to overcome these negative images of and to modernize the country he rules, President Thein Sein and his government has launched a series of political and economic reforms. Pride of place among those is a massive upgrade of the telecom sector. The measure is much needed.
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar, early this month, closed its public consultation on its proposed rules for the country’s telecommunications sector, which covers areas such as licensing, access and interconnection, spectrum, numbering, and competition. As anticipated, the draft rules included proposals for the issuance of additional telecoms licences in Myanmar.
Myanmar’s telecom sector was woefully starved of investment and expertise. Basic mobile voice coverage was less than 5 per cent, and internet access penetration less than that.
However, since taking power in 2011, reforms led by President Thein Sein have dramatically changed the attractiveness of Myanmar as a destination for investment, with the modernisation of the telecom sector being one of the first to be targeted.
While a lot still needs to happen to turn aspiration into reality, Myanmar looks set to receive significant investment by two wholly foreign-owned operators (Ooredoo and Telenor) as well as two local operators in partnership with minority foreign operators.
The new entrants have been signing-up to multibillion-dollar investments to achieve coverage in excess of 80 per cent for both voice and data and the Myanmar telecoms market is undergoing rapid change and expansion.
In June, when the two foreign companies, Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor, won the coveted rights to operate telecommunications networks in Myanmar—a country ahead of only North Korea in cellphone penetration—its 60 million people and watchful investors believed a revolution was at hand.
But four months later, the two operators, remain in the dark about the rules they’ll operate under. They also lacked the actual licenses they won the bidding for, holding them back from rolling out technology to modernize the sector, and delaying the day when Myanmar’s networks are on par with its Asian neighbors’.
Despite the challenges, Telenor and Ooredoo express optimism, describing Myanmar as one of the last untapped telecom market in the world.
In a step forward, Digicel Asian Holdings, a consortium of Digicel Group, Yoma Strategic and First Myanmar Investment Co Ltd (FMI), announced that it has signed an agreement with Ooredoo Myanmar to develop, construct and lease telecommunications towers in Myanmar.
Digicel’s Myanmar unit, Myanmar Tower Company, will be among the first telecommunications tower companies to begin construction in the Southeast Asian country. Through its multi-tenancy towers, it will help all telecommunications operating firms achieve their aim of rapidly deploying telecommunications coverage across the country, according to Digicel Group.
Ooredoo to launch 3G services in Myanmar next year
Ooredoo Myanmar will introduce 3G mobile services nationwide in 2014, according to company sources.
To achieve this, the operator has selected Nokia Solutions and Networks as the key supplier for its radio and core equipment and services. Ooredoo’s subscribers in Myanmar will soon have access to advanced mobile broadband services. “This initiative underlines our commitment to deliver world-class communications services to our customers in Myanmar, who will soon enjoy a great customer experience with our network,” said Ross Cormack, chief executive officer at Ooredoo Myanmar.
“We are confident of NSN’s capabilities to help deliver our vision of becoming the service provider-of-choice across Myanmar.”
Under the two-year agreement, NSN will build a complete 3G radio access network (RAN) on 900 MHz and 2100 MHz bands based on its compact and energy-efficient Flexi Multiradio 10 Base Station and Multicontroller Radio Network Controller (mcRNC).
These high-capacity and flexible platforms will provide great coverage and capacity for Ooredoo Myanmar, said Cormack, enabling it to roll out new services quickly and efficiently while managing its rapidly increasing traffic growth. As the supplier to Ooredoo Myanmar’s core network, NSN will provide its Liquid Core-based open Mobile Switching Center Server (MSS) and open Media Gateway (MGW). The company will also supply Evolved Packet Core (EPC) ready equipment, including Flexi NS (network server) and Flexi NG (network gateway).
The contract also includes NSN’s Subscriber Data Management (SDM) systems to enable a centralised database repository that is independent of the application used. NSN will also provide its NetAct management system to ensure consolidated configuration, monitoring and network optimization for Ooredoo Myanmar’s 3G network. The company will also provide insights into the customer experience.
The scope of the deal includes network implementation, planning and optimization, systems integration and care services including hardware, software and competence development services.
“This deal marks our entry into Myanmar and is therefore of great significance for NSN,” said Paul Tyler, senior vice president of Asia Pacific at NSN. “As Ooredoo Myanmar’s partner, we will leverage our expertise to build a network that will enable exciting new services for customers in Myanmar. Together with Ooredoo Myanmar, we will facilitate the evolution of the country’s communications industry.”
Following the announcement on June 27 that Ooredoo Myanmar had been successful in its bid for one of the two mobile telecommunications licences in Myanmar, Ooredoo the firm has laid the foundation for its business to become an integral part of the local community.
In October, Ooredoo Group announced the appointment of Ross Cormack to lead operations in Myanmar. Ooredoo Myanmar will offer a wide range of mobile communications services beyond voice and data to improve the lives of Myanmar’s consumers and help businesses run more efficiently.
This will include the development of a comprehensive portfolio of services including mobile money services, a range of mobile health services, and services to support farmers and agriculture, all of which the company has launched in other markets. Ooredoo Myanmar will roll out these services using a large distribution network that will quickly reach beyond Myanmar’s cities into the country’s rural areas. The company will use this network across 3G networks using 900 and 2100 frequencies, thus bringing data services to where there has previously only been voice.
NSN is a specialist in mobile broadband wholly owned by Nokia Corporation. From the first ever call on GSM to the first call on LTE, NSN has operated at the forefront of each generation of mobile technology. With headquarters in Espoo, Finland, NSN operates in more than 120 countries and had net sales of approximately 13.4 billion euros (Ks 17.95 trillion) last year.
Rita Nguyen is creating a social media network there in a language she doesn’t speak
When civilian government replaced military rule in Republic of the Union of Myanmar, it ended censorship that had, among other restrictions, banned news websites sites and social networking such as the video sharing site YouTube.
Twitter and Facebook were subject to blocking on occasion and in 2007, the ruling junta blocked Internet connectivity completely during that country’s street protests.
When 50 years of censorship and Myanmar’s economic isolation came to an end, the country attracted entrepreneurs eager to tap into a consumer population that lagged far behind in access to many services, including communications.
Vancouver’s Rita Nguyen, cofounder of SQUAR, Myanmar’s first social media network that launched earlier this year, was among them.
The Republic of the Union of Myanmar today closed its public consultation on its proposed rules for the country’s telecommunications sector, which covers areas such as licensing, access and interconnection, spectrum, numbering, and competition. TelcoProspects for Myanmar’s telecoms sector are looking very positive.
Managed by the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, the consultation allowed interested parties such as Ooredoo, Telenor, MPT, YPT, and industry players to comment on the proposed rules which were published on November 4. As anticipated, the draft rules included proposals for the issuance of additional telecoms licences in Myanmar.
The consultation covered five broad areas:
2. Access and interconnection;
4. Numbering; and
A key question here is whether the proposed rules meet international best practice benchmarks? Now that the consultation on the draft regulations has closed, it is possible to provide an interim report card. While this can be done in different ways, a useful benchmark is the reference telecoms paper of the GATS annex on telecoms which sets out the basic elements of a liberalized telecoms regulatory framework. more…
NAYPYITAW – The Myanmar SEA Games themed “Green, Clean and Friendly” came to colourful close at Wunna Theikdi Main Stadium here tonight, Bernama reported. The arrival of Myanmar President, U Thein Sein, wife Daw Khin Khin Win and guets at the stadium were met with a fireworks display. A large group of children who formed the 27th SEA Games logo got the closing ceremony underway.
The audience were entertained with cultural performances such as the elephant dance and the Myanmar traditional sport ‘Chinlone.’
The ceremony continued with the procession of athletes representing the 33 sports contested at the games held over 19 days.
The 33 sports are athletics, archery, badminton, basketball, billiards, bodybuilding, boxing, canoeing, chess, chinlone, equestrian, football, futsal, golf, hockey, judo, karate, kempo, muay thai, petanque, ping pong, rowing, snooker, swimming, sepak takraw, sailing, shooting, silat, taekwondo, volleyball, vovinam, weightlifting, wrestling and traditional boat racing.
The ceremony proceeded with lowering of the flag of the SEA Games Federation (SGF) and the flag of Myanmar as the host country.
The closing of the biennial games was officiated by Myanmar Vice President, U Nyan Tun.
The 11 participating countries are Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Timor Leste, Vietnam and Myanmar.
This is the third time Myanmar hosted the biggest sporting event in South East Asia after 1961 and 1969.
Thailand were top with 107 gold, 94 silver and 81 bronze while hosts Myanmar were second place with 85 gold, 62 silver and 85 bronze.
Vietnam were third with 73 gold, 86 silver and 86 bronze while Indonesia were fourth with 65 gold, 84 silver and 110 bronze.
Singapore will host the 28th SEA Games in 2015 while Malaysia will host the 29th SEA Games in 2017.
Myanmar drew a close to three weeks of sporting celebration with a lavish closing ceremony. more…
In Myanmar, a long-isolated nation now opening up to the world after decades of brutal military rule, one still finds romantic echoes of the former British colony that inspired the young author to pen his first novel, ‘Burmese Days.’
Wandering around Yangon, the former capital city of Myanmar, always makes me think of George Or well. Yangon’s old British buildings have the look of Gothic ruins gone astray in a tropical forest that cannot accommodate their scale. They rise up under a monsoon moon, massive and darkened and ill placed — the High Court a Queen Anne-style brick castle with a gloomy clock tower, like a London railway station reproduced here by some demented committee. Seen after midnight, they recall the state prisons and labyrinths of “1984,” a novel that, like many of the works by a onetime Burma resident then known as Eric Blair, was once nominally banned here. Times, though, have changed: at the first Irrawaddy Literary Festival earlier this year, copies of Orwell books were handed out to participants, and the organizers of Britain’s Orwell Prize came to the country to celebrate their man’s Burmese past. Blair would have been amused.
It is strange to think of a young and unknown Orwell, who was born in India to a father who worked as an overseer of the colonial opium business, perhaps pacing around the ghostly Sule Pagoda 90 years ago and taking in this same view that I often enjoy when walking around the Maha Bandula park late at night. Back then, I suppose, on empty Sule Pagoda Road next to the park, gangs of boys did not play soccer under streetlamps, their naked backs glistening with sweat. The streets were probably swept free of garbage, and the dogs that swarm through them today would have been taken care of in brutal fashion. It was a different city, a famously wilder, greener place. more…
YANGON – A signing ceremony was held on December 7 between Myanmar and French representatives to establish a Myanmar Journalism School.
Information Minister Aung Kyi and Aurelie Filipetti, the Minister of Culture and Communications from France, signed the agreement at the Chatrium Hotel in Yangon.
The school will receive long term assistance from the Forever Group (FG), the United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Canal France International (CFI), Deutsche Welle Akademie, Fojo Media and the International Institute for Media Support.
Twelve reporters from Fojo Media are being hired to teach at the Myanmar Journalism School (MyJS) and will conduct teacher training courses in early 2014. Both France and Myanmar are now reviewing MyJS’s management, rules and regulations.
The two countries will also build a joint management system and still need to decide whether to form MyJS as a nongovernmental organisation or a private company.
An exhibition of rare photos in Yangon provides a window into the country’s past and present, revealing how things have changed – and what has stayed the same – in the last 100 years.
Thanks to the Munich State Museum of Ethnology, photos taken over a century ago are now on display at the National Theatre in Yangon from November 22 to January 12.
Complementing photographer Christine Scherman’s 43 blackand- white photographs from 1911 are 43 colour photographs taken between 2010 and 2013 by Birgit Neiser. Both photographers are from Munich, and their joint show, entitled Golden Land: Burma/Myanmar, 100 Years, reveals striking similarities between Scherman’s monochrome photographs from the past and Neiser’s artwork from the present era.
The juxtaposition is all the more surprising given that Neiser had not seen Scherman’s work at the time she took her own photographs.
“At first I had no idea and I didn’t know anything about Christine Scherman and her photos. I was really overwhelmed when I saw her photos. What a coincidence – I have many matching images in my own archive.”
“She was a Munich documentary photographer from a hundred years ago and I am a Munich documentary photographer too,” Neiser said. “I was surprised that two female photographers from the same city documented the same country. A hundred years have passed, but it became a great project.” more…
Socially-conscious shoppers will find plenty of gift options this holiday season, including a new line of silk necklaces that are helping refugee women from Myanmar build new lives in New Hampshire.
The women are members of an artists’ collective called A Woven Thread, which was founded by Beth Seremet and Katie Berube, social workers who wanted to help their female clients form friendships and learn basic business skills. Since launching in May, the collective has gained popularity for both its wares and its mission of empowerment through entrepreneurship.
“We saw the need,” said Berube, who, like Seremet, works at Lutheran Social Services. “A Woven Thread was designed to bring the women together, to get them to leave the house and to talk with each other.”
The awards will be held at Yangon’s Thuwunna Indoor Stadium after December 29 so as not to clash with the Games, said U Aye Kyu Lay, a spokesperson from the Myanmar Motion Picture Organization.
“When we applied to get the permit, we weren’t sure we would get it because the Games needed to use the stadium as well,” said U Aye Kyu Lay.
“Now, we’ve got the permit so we will announce the exact date after consulting with our industry peers.”
Traditionally the MMPO and the government arranged every logistical facet of the awards, but this year they are outsourcing to private business to help with the event management.
“We have chosen the international Barco Company to assist with the project management,” U Aye Kyu Lay told The Myanmar Times. “We made the decision on November 26 that Barco, which also specialises in digital technology, will take the lead in organising.
“Barco will also be responsible for inviting celebrities from abroad.” The Academy judging board has selected the top seven film finalists, selected out of 15 films made in 2012.
The Myanmar Academy Awards were held in Yangon from 1952, until 2006 when they moved to Nay Pyi Taw.
But after complaints from media and celebrities about the difficulty of Nay Pyi Taw as a location (and because Myanmar’s film industry is based in Yangon), it was agreed the awards would be moved back this year. more…