Two of Myanmar’s operators have accelerated their 4G rollouts as they prepare to expand their coverage.
One week after acquiring extra spectrum from the government, state-owned MPT has begun offering 4G in the three major cities of Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon. MPT has provided some 4G service in Yangon and Nay Pyi Taw since October last year, but only in specific locations.
Despite leading the market, it was the last of the four players to launch commercial 4G services. The operator has said that it is aiming to expand its commercial 4G service swiftly after obtaining 2x10MHz blocks of 1.8GHz spectrum from the Myanmar Post and Telecommunications Department for $80 million.
Meanwhile third-placed Ooredoo Myanmar – as well as the country’s other players Mytel and Telenor Myanmar - was allocated the same amount of additional spectrum for the same price, and is now upgrading its sites in order to increase 4G speeds. The operator has also pledged to fast-track 4G deployment in order to extend its coverage to other cities more rapidly.
Ooredoo Myanmar was the first operator to offer 4G services in Myanmar, launching in May 2016 in the same three cities as MPT and delivering services via the 2.1Ghz band. It has since expanded its coverage across most of Bagan, Magway, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Daw and Yangon, covering 52 townships.
Ooredoo Myanmar CMO Charity Safford said: “Customers have much bigger data needs than can be provided on 3G technology. For example, they want a superior experience watching TV on their mobile phones. Ooredoo has been busy upgrading our network.”
While Ooredoo’s overall market share rests at 19%, it comfortably leads the 4G market with 5 million subscribers – around 54% of its user base. Number two Telenor Myanmar has a market share of around 37%. It deployed 4G services in July last year and has around 500,000 4G subscribers.
The fourth player Mytel was awarded its licence in January. It is a joint venture between a consortium of local firms and Vietnam’s Viettel; the venture is named Myanmar National Tele & Communications (MNTC) and is not expected to launch services until 2018.