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Burma's Telecoms Minister Resigns Over SIM Card Price Clash

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Myanmar Burma's telecoms minister resigned earlier this week, just after the government published details of its planned telecoms license tender but reportedly for unrelated reasons.

The MPT Minister, Thein Tun is repoerted to have clashed with the President over plans to reduce the cost of buying a SIM card. The President wanted the fee lowered to around US$55, but the Minister was concerned that would eat into the revenues of the state-owned mobile network.

Thein Tun wanted to place an order for 4 million SIM cards and sell them at US$220 each - which is still far too expensive for the average consumer.

It would appear that he was also trying to soak up some of the pent-up demand for mobile phones in the country before the two expected private operators are able to launch their services, probably late this year. According to the latest official data, as of end of December 2012, the current mobile base is 5.44 million subscribers equivalent to just  9% population penetration.

A decision on what rate these SIM cards will eventually be sold at is not now expected until April at the earliest.

On the web: The Irrawaddy

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Tags: sim card  Myanmar