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Thu 27 Feb 2014 10:40 AM

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Qatar's Ooredoo to launch Myanmar service in Q3

CEO says operator aiming to capture up to 50% of the market within two years

Qatar's Ooredoo to launch Myanmar service in Q3
Dr Nasser Marafih, CEO of Ooredoo

Ooredoo, the Qatari telecommunications operator formerly known as Qtel, will launch 3G mobile services in Myanmar in the third quarter of this year after it was officially awarded a licence last month, its CEO told Arabian Business.

Speaking on the sidelines of Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Dr Nasser Marafih said Ooredoo intended to share newly-built infrastructure with fellow licensee Telenor in the South East Asian country.

"We are building infrastructure as we speak. So the plan is in the third quarter that we will launch," Dr Marafih said. "We will be leapfrogging 2G to 3G, as our strategy is to focus on data and broadband. It makes a lot of financial sense from an infrastructure point of view."

On sharing infrastructure with Norway's Telenor, Dr Marafih said there was "a good understanding" between the two companies. "We [will] have some discussions with them to try to share as much as possible, which is good. We're going through that process of trying to share. The idea is to share as much as we can, both the transmission, towers and even power."

Dr Marafih said that in terms of mobile penetration, the current level in Myanmar was "below 10 percent" and that Ooredoo was aiming to capture "30 percent to 50 percent" of the market in the "coming year or two".

Myanmar, formerly known as Burma under its British colonial administration, has one of the world's least developed telecoms infrastructure. Served by a single state operator, mobile SIM cards were reported to sell for upwards of $250 each.

However, following reforms to open up the former military dictatorship three years ago, more than 90 operators were said to have expressed an interest in a tendering process to provide mobile services.

Ooredoo has previously said it will invest $15bn in the country.

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