The government of Myanmar has announced plans to open its telecoms sector to foreign investors via up to three public-private joint ventures, and will appoint a consultant in the next few months to finalise the legal framework for overseas firms to own and operate networks in the country, reports Dow Jones Newswires, quoting a representative of the Ministry of Communications, Post & Telegraphs, Kyaw Soe. Myanmar has a population of around 60 million, only about three million of which have a telephone connection, representing a combined fixed and mobile penetration of 5%, which the government is aiming to increase to 75% in the financial year ended March 2016, by adding over 40 million new subscribers in less than four years, Kyaw Soe stated. Under its draft liberalisation framework, the government will retain 51% ownership in all telecoms joint ventures, while it intends to impose rollout conditions stipulating coverage of rural areas for all licensees. Currently, under Myanmar’s State-Owned Economic Enterprises Law, government-owned Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT) is the sole provider of telecoms services, but the country is in the final stages of drafting a new telecoms law that would allow private sector participation. MPT is currently rolling out a nationwide fibre-optic backbone to support advanced fixed and mobile data services; Kyaw Soe noted that the current reach of the network is less than 1,000km, although expansion is ongoing.
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