MPT claims to have 25 million active SIMs and 98 percent population coverage. From the refusal to answer the question re data usage, it appears that the data consumption is less than on Ooredoo and Telenor. But this is a strong performance and testimony to the wisdom of the decision to change the internal culture of the company by bringing in external management. “We have thousands of towers, the number of which is increasing almost daily,” Amamiya said. “We use the 900MHz spectrum that can cover a greater area with fewer towers needed.
MPT is the former monopoly supplier and still has the largest customer base. But their new managers have reason to be worried whether they can hold to the customers. Telenor is a major player skilled in implementing the budget telecom network model and is nipping at MPT’s heels. Ooredoo has deep pockets. When the VietTel led fourth operator gets going, MPT can expect even more pressure.
That is a real achievement. If you add the numbers you will see that the 80/100 people that was to be achieved in 2018 has been surpassed. Congratulations Myanmar. Myanmar’s leading mobile operator Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) added more than 8.5 million mobile connections over the past year, taking its user base to 20 million.
They are aiming to go to 95% from the present 60%. This poses an interesting question about what to base coverage claims/targets on: geography or population? The commitments made by Telenor and Ooredoo were in terms of geography. But as shown by MPT, population is what makes intuitive commercial sense. Myanmar’s MPT aims to cover 95% of the population with its 3G network by the end of March.
A carrier-neutral international cable that will connect Myanmar to Thailand and Malaysia is be operational by 2017. he story does not say anything about SEA-ME-WE 5, scheduled to be operational in 2016, and the AAE-1 cable scheduled for completion in Q4 2016. Nor is any mention made of the already built new links to China. Could this be because all the above except for SEA-ME-WE 5 are essentially cables that connect China to the world, which just happen to go through Myanmar? Any way, a carrier-neutral cable is always a good thing.
I can recall the astronomical ARPUs in Afghanistan (over USD 80/month) when that market was opened up. Then, after normal Afghans who were not earning expat salaries started using the service, the ARPUs came down to more normal levels. There are plenty of expats roaming the streets of Yangon, but they have no discernible impact in the fast-expanding networks of this country of 50 million plus. But the ARPUs are high. We can confirm this from the sample survey we conducted in Feb-Mar 2015.
When Japan’s NTT bought 35 percent of the equity of the formerly government owned incumbent operator in Sri Lanka, it radically increased the pace of investment by the company. But this was using funds generated from within the company, primarily from the money earned from its exclusivity over international telecom services. Appears Myanmar’s incumbent has worked out a better deal. Myanmar’s state-owned operator plans to expand its network by increasing the number of base stations from 2,000 to 5,000 by Q2 next year. Its Japanese partners KDDI and Sumitomo will contribute JPY200 billion ($1.
Some questions that came to mind as I read the report linked below. Myanmar has 325 townships, the third level of administrative units. So, 199 out of 325 is pretty good. But is it that Telenor is in a central location in 199 townships or they cover the entirety of 199 townships? How does Ooredoo calculate its population coverage?
There is a certain arrogance in coverage of developing countries by Western reporters. They assumed that Ooredoo, managed by Westerners, and Telenor in particular would simply walk over MPT. That was the case in places like Bangladesh where the government did not act to reform the incumbent. But MPT is managed by KDD. They also did not take into account the advantage of having land.
So Telenor is about to hit the market. They’ve got to work smarter, lacking the billions (USD 15, but I’ve heard even larger numbers) Ooredoo is committed to invest. Being the late comer, Telenor is betting on service quality as well as extensive marketing network to ensure success. While MPT assigned 13 companies and shops to sell its SIM cards, Telenor said that its products would be available at 1,500 shops in Mandalay alone. In direct competition against MPT, Telenor is also offering two low-cost mobile handsets, an entry level second-generation phone and entry level smart phone, for Ks 19,900 [USD 20] and Ks 49,900 [USD 50] respectively.
Incumbent telcos see competition as an unmitigated evil. But what happens is that competition energizes the market and creates new demand. If the incumbent is decently managed, it can catch some (and possibly most) of this demand. After all, it is the known brand. And competitors have their own problems in the start-up phase.
Xinhua reports mobile SIM numbers for Myanmar as of April 2014. Helped by the lower than estimated population numbers given by the latest census that came out a week back, this means that Myanmar is well on its way to achieving its telecom penetration targets. The current SIM penetration is not known, but if we add 1 million to the Xinhua numbers (reported to be what Ooredoo achieved in first three weeks of rollout), the SIM/100 reaches 18. The number of Myanmar’s mobile phone users has been on sharp rise, reaching 8.278 million as of April 2014, up 7.
Bright people go into engineering in countries like Myanmar and Sri Lanka. Engineers manage incumbent telcos. When I came to Sri Lanka as the regulator in 1998, I was surprised by some of the things my bright engineer friends said about losing market share. They talked as though this was something that could be stanched. I had to tell them that market share would necessarily have to go down because that’s what competition does.
Usually, profits go to those who take the risks and do the work. What is MPT’s contribution to the JV? Being “the industry regulator,” which I hope is a misstatement of facts? Contributing the land and existing assets? Middle management?
In Sri Lanka, the incumbent teleco is a healthy company that gives decent service, lots of patronage benefits and some contributions to Treasury. It did not shed any employees, other than through voluntary schemes. In Bangladesh and India, the incumbents are at death’s door. The difference is that Sri Lanka government partially privatized the company in 1997, giving management control to the Japanese investor. Thanks to another Japanese partner, it looks like the Myanmar MPT company will not join the incumbents requiring life support.
Myanmar Post and Telecommunication (MPT), the state-owned fixed, mobile and international gateway monopoly-cum-regulator, is signing an agreement with Japanese operator KDDI. The latter will take control of MPT’s day-to-day operations. Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT) official U Than Tun Aung told Myanmar Times: The process has been delayed for many months because so many steps are required to negotiate with MPT, since it is a state-owned business. The agreement is going to be signed at the end of the month. MPT has been shopping for a foreign partner to safeguard its businesses from two heavyweight new entrants, Telenor and Ooredoo, which are due to launch mobile networks end of this year.