Telenor Myanmar pays annual licence fee under strong protest – calls for immediate opening of data network

(26.03.2021) Telenor is required to meet its licence obligations and pay the annual licence fee, but does so under strong protest against recent developments and calls for Myanmar to immediately open the data network and honour the country’s commitments to international agreements and human rights law.

Published: 26 March 2021 13:16

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Telenor Group is gravely concerned with the negative development in Myanmar, and the unavailability of the mobile data network since the 15 March. We maintain that the network should be kept open at all times so that people can stay connected and to ensure people’s basic rights of freedom of expression and opinion. As a company operating in Myanmar, we now face several dilemmas, including legal and licencing obligations that in normal circumstances are business as usual. At the same time, millions of people rely on Telenor Myanmar to keep them connected.

Telenor secured a licence with the Union of Myanmar to own and operate a telecommunications network in 2013, which included a recurring annual licence fee. At the end of March 2021, Telenor will make payment of the annual licence fee to the telecom regulator in Myanmar, represented by the Ministry of Transport and Communication (MoTC). Meeting the licence obligations is required for Telenor to continue to provide mobile connectivity to the people of Myanmar. Failure to do so could lead to licence termination. The conclusion is reached based on a broad assessment including legality and the safety and security of our personnel on the ground.

However, the payment is made under strong protest on the current developments. Communication and access to information is important for the safety, security and well-being of the people of Myanmar, also in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Telenor Group has stressed to the MoTC that the ongoing data network shutdowns are currently obstructing our ability to serve our customers. On the part of the Myanmar authorities, we have urged that the MoTC ensures that Telenor Myanmar can fully extend the positive impact of mobile access to the people of Myanmar, starting by:

  1. Immediately lift of the shutdown of mobile internet,
  2. Uphold the rule of law and,
  3. Ensure sound regulatory frameworks and laws for the telecom industry, in line with international standards, including human rights standards.

Furthermore, Myanmar is bound by international agreements, treaties and international human rights law, and we call for Myanmar to honour these commitments.

Telenor’s mission in Myanmar is to provide mobile communication for all, based on global standards, and Telenor Myanmar remains committed to serving its customers and the people of Myanmar.

Media contact:

Tormod Sandstø | tormod.sandsto@telenor.com | tel: +47 90 94 32 15