Learning from the experience of others, the licensing regime in Myanmar made it possible for companies that specialized in the operation of towers to function (unlike, say, in Sri Lanka). When the main business of a company is the leasing of space for antenna, it has incentives to use the towers most efficiently and to allow as many mobile network operators to use the space as possible. It is not that concerns over aesthetics and health are absent, but it would be fair to say that Myanmar could not have made the rapid progress it has achieved without this element of intelligent policy design.
Fortunately for Myanmar’s telecom infrastructure companies, the market for rooftop real estate is booming. A fourth telco is due to launch this year, and Telenor and Ooredoo are in the midst of a major urban rollout. Demand for towers is the highest it has been in years.
Telenor spokesperson Mr Joachim Rajaram said the telco has never stopped expanding in the countryside, and has more than 7,200 towers serving more than 19 million customers throughout Myanmar. But as the growth of new users slows, it is refocusing on urban areas.
“We are strengthening our network capacity in cities and towns across the country where data adoption continues to grow,” Rajaram said.
This means hundreds of new towers – everything from large, standalone “greenfield” structures (to use an industry term), to small towers erected on existing infrastructure. As they scramble to claim territory, tower builders are staking out sites on rooftops, billboards and even light poles.