By Shannon Najmabadi
Image credit: @thetenthdragon.
Already the world’s largest mobile phone operator, it seems that China Mobile has big plans set in store for 2013.
In January, Apple CEO Tim Cook met with the chairman of China Mobile to discuss the possibility of enabling newer iPhone models to use the network’s 4G capabilities.
Now, China Mobile has joined forces with Vodafone in hopes of gaining access to Burma, a country with a largely untapped mobile phone market.
Burma’s government aims to put cell phones in the hands of 80 percent of its 60 million citizens by 2016 – a huge increase given that less than 10 percent of the country currently has access to a telephone. Naturally, mobile phone operators are eager to exploit what the Economic Times calls “one of the world’s last unexplored mobile telephone frontiers.”
China Mobile and Vodafone, the two largest telecommunications companies in the world, are among 22 bidders who are competing to obtain one of two licenses on offer in Burma. The licenses, which will be awarded on June 27, enable the winning firms to join the country’s two domestic networks and build, own and operate a nationwide network for an initial term of 15 years.
Other companies vying for licenses include Singapore’s SingTel, Qatar Telecom, Norway’s Telenor, and a consortium including George Soros’s Quantum Strategic Partners, Digicel and Burmese businessman Serge Pun.
The Burmese government is expected to announce a shortlist of firms who pre-qualify on April 11.