After Ericsson, Alcatel-Lucent seeks opportunities in Myanmar

Telecom Lead Asia: In order to strengthen market position
in Southeast Asia and compete with rivals such as Ericsson, Huawei and ZTE,
Alcatel-Lucent is planning to look at business opportunities in Myanmar
and other countries in Southeast Asia.


The company’s president for the Asia-Pacific region
Rajeev Singh-Molares said that the region will play a bigger role in its future
growth. He added that Alcatel-Lucent saw strong growth potential in Cambodia,
Laos and Vietnam, where mobile phone penetration rates remain low.


Ericsson to set up office in Myanmar telecom market


Recently, Ericsson has also decided to set up office
in Yangon, Myanmar in June.


The decision is significant as Myanmar, with an estimated
population of over 60 million, has only around one million people enjoy the
benefits of a mobile telephone. Around 400,000 people have internet access in


Myanmar has mobile phone penetration at 1 percent and
that poses tremendous opportunity for these telecom equipment makers.
“Alcatel-Lucent is observing and watching the developments in Myanmar with
a lot of interest,” he said on the sidelines of the World Economic
Forum on East Asia in Bangkok.


Myanmar is opening up to the outside world after decades
of isolation under a military junta. Over the past year, a new government has
pushed through political and economic reforms and a new foreign investment law
should be passed soon.


The telecom sector in Myanmar is likely to be on the
radar for most telcos for incremental investment.


Unstable politics and bottlenecks, including: 1) high handset
prices ($45-600); 2) SIM registration cost of $150-200; 3) long waiting periods
(up to 2 years) and connection hurdles; 4) poor networks and coverage; and 5)
lack of competition have hampered growth.


The recent developments in Myanmar, including the
suspension of Western sanctions, were “quite encouraging” and will
allow significant expansion of the telecom infrastructure,” Singh-Molares

Alcatel-Lucent, which competes with Nokia Siemens Networks and Chinese rivals
such as Huawei Technologies and ZTE, was quite optimistic about
growth in Asia, driven by smartphones and mobile data demand.


Asia contributes about 20 percent to Alcatel-Lucent’s
revenue, and Southeast Asia would be important for driving growth in the
region. While global telecom equipment spending was expected to slow this year,
Alcatel-Lucent expected growth in ASEAN to continue. ASEAN countries could
invest more than $1 trillion over the next decade on their telecoms


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