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FPT targets Myanmar broadband

Update: June, 18/2013 - 10:40

HCM CITY (VNS)— Viet Nam's software giant FPT Corporation will open an office in Myanmar soon as it prepares to develop ICT infrastructure for providing internet broadband services in the country.

Truong Gia Binh, co-founder, chairman and CEO of the Vietnamese corporation, revealed this in talks with Myanmarese reporters after the closing ceremony of the World Economic Forum in Nay Pyi Taw City.

"We have to calculate the amount of investment. We still have to investigate. When we get the green light from the government, we will make a proposal to the government," Binh said.

He said he expects the approval to come soon.

"I think the installation process will take two years," he said, adding the company's leaders were discussing the project with the government of Myanmar.

The office, which is likely to be located in Yangon, Myanmar's former capital and largest city, will focus on research, distribution and market expansion.

Binh said the group's management board has already appointed the head of the representative office.

Twenty-five years ago, very few Vietnamese could access the Internet. Viet Nam's Internet penetration was 34 percent in early 2012. Now, Myanmar's low ICT penetration rate, at below five percent, remains far below its neighbours, presenting an attractive market of 61 million potential customers. It's a smart move for telecom and big software companies to enter the market now.

Binh told the local journalists that he understood well the market and current situation in Myanmar, which had suffered an embargo for two decades, just as Viet Nam had in the aftermath of the American War.

Both nations had shared the same problems and difficulties, and developing ICT infrastructure would be an urgent need in Myanmar now, he said.

He said his choice of Myanmar as an investment destination was also influenced by the fact that the two countries had enjoyed very good bilateral relations for a long time.

Foundation

Information technology should be considered a top priority for attracting foreign investment, developing the economy, and fostering social equality, Binh said.

"Information technology is the basic foundation for further development of the country. Without internet, no foreign investment will come into the country," he said.

As in many other developing countries, investment in Myanmar's telecommunications industry can decrease the cost of doing business, improve access to information, and facilitate inexpensive and convenient transactions, all of which will help improve the business environment, according to Jared Bissinger, a doctoral student from Australia who was quoted as saying in the Myanmar Times.

Binh said developing ICT infrastructure should be top priority because Myanmar was a country with huge Internet-related business opportunities including internet cafes and online games.

Furthermore, the internet could help reduce the development gap between the countryside and city and improve the quality and reach of education in Myanmar, he said.

But this should happen at a low cost, Binh said.

"The cost range is very important. How did the number of mobile phone subscribers in Viet Nam grow very fast? Because the fee was low. It was affordable for everybody."

FPT could also help Myanmar develop its IT human resources, Binh said. He said the number of IT engineers in Myanmar should increase significantly in the coming years and they should have the chance to access the latest technology worldwide.

In Viet Nam, FPT has a wide range of businesses including telecommunications, digital content, software, computing services and training. The FPT University has 15,000 students.

Binh suggested that Myanmar could benefit from FPT's expertise in many areas, adding that he looked forward to co-operating with local companies in several fields.

In March, Myanmar Vice President Nyan Tuyn led a delegation on a visit to the offices of FPT's HCM City branch. The delegation was introduced to the company's projects and informed of the co-operation opportunities that exist in ICT between the two countries.

FPT Corp. which started business 25 years ago when Viet Nam had just adopted its open-door policy, has invested in 53 of 64 provinces and cities in Viet Nam. It also has investments in the US, Europe, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Laos, Cambodia, now is Myanmar.

Now it employs 15,000 people and gets US$1.2 billion in revenue every year.

Beside FPT Corporation, arguably Viet Nam's largest software development company, giants like Viettel and Mobifone also plan to make telecom investments in Myanmar. —VNS


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