Japanese telecommunications technology outfits NEC and NTT, with the backing of the influential Sumitomo trading house, are investing in and aiding the Myanmar government in building a fiber-optic telecommunications network linking three of the newly-democratized country’s major cities. The Japanese firms are taking advantage of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s pledge of helping in the development of the Southeast Asian country – which has recently transitioned to a democratic government from a military dictatorship – and a 1.71 billion yen (16.7 million US dollars) grant pledged by the Japanese government to Myanmar in late-December.
The project will see the Japanese telecoms outfits building a core high-speed network capable of transmitting data at 30 gigabits per second (Gbps). This core network will link the major cities of Yangon, Mandalay and Naypyitaw. The contract also includes a 10 Gbps fiber-optic network inside each of the three cities capable of voice-over-IP (VOIP) communications as well as standard data. The comprehensive communications project will also provide services such as long-term evolution (LTE) high-speed wireless communications, fixed-line phone, and Internet connections, resulting in a tremendous boost of connectivity in Myanmar’s major population centers.
The Japanese trio hopes to complete all initial infrastructure and facilities construction by the end of November, and provide technology and knowledge transfer as well as operational support from December to mid-January, enabling the Myanmar government to utilize the new facilities. Myanmar is widely seen as one of the last untapped markets in Asia, especially in terms of telecommunications. Japanese Prime Minister Abe is looking to aggressively pitch Japanese technology to the fast-developing country, as part of his administration’s growth strategy. However, the country’s unclear regulatory regime and ICT infrastructure which does not support business growth might prove as difficult challenges to telcos and service providers looking to enter Myanmar’s markets.