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Vodafone and China Mobile unite for Myanmar bid

World's two leading cellcos to submit joint application for one of two national mobile licences in Asian country

By CAROLINE GABRIEL

Published: 5 April, 2013

READ MORE: Spectrum | Myanmar | Vodafone Group | Regulator

Vodafone is getting closer to long term ally China Mobile, this time for a joint push into emerging markets. In an agreement which could prefigure further collaborations, the world's two largest cellcos will form a consortium to bid for a mobile licence in Myanmar.

Both companies are keen to gain footholds in new economies, with Vodafone aware of saturation in its core European base, and China Mobile looking for pan-regional influence. Their joint activity would bring together several strong mobile brands and create a buying powerhouse - the duo have often teamed up on influencing or negotiating with vendors. Vodafone also brings a wealth of experience in building markets and in key technologies like mobile payments.


The partners said they would apply for a 15-year licence to build and operate a mobile network in the newly liberalized Asian nation, and have submitted a pre-qualification application with the Myanmar authorities.

Only two licences will be issued and there has been a high level of interest, with at least four other applications for the national licences. SingTel, Axiata, Temasek subsidiary ST Telemedia and Norway's Telenor have each submitted expressions of interest, according to Bloomberg.

Myanmar is one of the least developed telecoms market in the world, with mobile penetration below 10%. State TV recently announced that it would kickstart the process by making SIM cards available at affordable rates. From April 24, SIMs costing just 1,500 kyat ($1.75) will be available to consumers, down in price from 200,000 kyat ($230) or more.

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