It was announced for some time, and it was finally made official.
Following the takeover of Telenor Myanmar by the Lebanese M1 Group, the company has officially been rebranded as ATOM Myanmar.
After the 2021 military coup, Telenor Group decided to leave the country over human right concern. There has been a massive push from human rights organizations to entice the Norwegian operator to stay in the country, but it was all in vain.
M1 Group specialized in autocratic regimes
M1 Group which took over the company has a long history of dealing with authoritarian regimes such as Sudan, Syria, and Yemen. In 2000, M1 was granted a telecom license in Syria, weeks after Bashar al-Assad came into power.
M1 will not operate alone and partnered with local conglomerate Shwe Byine Phyu. According to Elevenmyanmar, Shwe Byine Phyu will own 49% of ATOM Myanmar. Other sources state that the local company will own even more stake, up to 80%.
Shwe Byain Phyu group has strong ties with the Myanmar Military through two sanctioned companies: MEHL specialized in petroleum and MEC which is already an investor in Telecom International Myanmar Company Limited aka Mytel, the country’s 4th operator.
First Commercial 5G Network in Myanmar
ATOM Myanmar targets to invest USD 330 million over three years to upgrade its network. The company aims to be the first commercial 5G operator in Myanmar in the coming years. Source
Bad news for Internet Freedom in Myanmar
Out of the four telecom companies in Myanmar, three of them have strong connections with the regime, MPT, Atom, and Mytel. The ladder, Ooredoo Myanmar, is owned by Qatar which is not a strong supporter of Internet freedom either.
Today, more than ever, it is crucial for Myanmar citizens to protect their privacy and to ensure that their Internet activity is as anonymous as it could be.
Following the coup, the junta commanded the telecom operators to block wide ranges of IPs to prevent civilians from using VPNs. The Myanmar government also plans to criminalize the use of VPNs as stated in the recent draft of the cybersecurity law which is yet to be approved.
In this dark period for the country, we encourage our readers to take all the necessary precautions when expressing their thoughts or opinion on the Internet.
Android users are encouraged to read our recent article: 7 Steps to Protect your Online Privacy on Android / MIUI.
Herbert is a nom de plume.
I am an experienced telecom professional blogging about the fastest growing Internet market in the world: Myanmar.