Mobile World Live — Myanmar’s largest operator MPT has launched Free Basics and Facebook Flex to give subscribers free access to basic information and resources on the the internet. The operator said Free Basics offers access to more than 35 sites dedicated to health, education, jobs and finance. Facebook Flex has two modes – free mode and data mode. Free mode allows people to post, comment and chat for free, however, they can’t view images and videos.
Myanmar Times — The operator has remained tight-lipped on the issue, despite its foreign-owned industry rivals Telenor and Ooredoo having reported or answered questions on customer data requests. Yosuke Fukuma, public relations adviser for KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM) – the joint venture between MPT and Japanese firm KDDI – said it was not possible to provide figures on police requests for user information from the operator side “as these do not belong merely to MPT, and may relate to investigating activities by the police authorities”.
Myanmar Times — MPT plans to hold 56 seminars in schools, universities and industrial estates across 28 townships from now until mid-March, and later this year will hold seminars in MPT-branded shops. The first talks will be held in the delta region and central Myanmar, said Koichi Kawase, chief commercial operator of MPT and its Japanese joint venture partner KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM).
Myanmar Times — During a keynote speech at the International Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Netflix co-founder and chief executive Reed Hastings said the move was “the birth of a new global internet TV network”. “With this launch, consumers around the world – from Singapore to St Petersburg, from San Francisco to Sao Paulo – will be able to enjoy TV shows and movies simultaneously – no more waiting,” he said.
Myanmar Times — The state-owned operator had just over 200 towers in the region until 2014, but has fast-tracked construction to compete with international operators Telenor and Ooredoo. The two foreign telcos began operations in Myanmar last year, ending MPT’s monopoly. U Ye Min Oo, manager for MPT in Mandalay, said the operator now has 98 percent coverage in the region, up from 77pc last year.
Myanmar Times — U Thaung Tin said his ministry will not deter operators from using more advanced technology. “If operators want to launch a 4G network for their subscribers, we are ready to support the spectrum,” he said. The 4G Long Term Evolution, or LTE, networks are faster than their third-generation, or 3G, counterparts. They also require more expensive handsets and use up more data, requiring users to add credit to their phones more often.
Myanmar Times — The parent to MPT joint venture partner KDDI Summit Global Myanmar said Myanmar’s state operator has boosted its user base by 250 percent since the firms teamed up last July. With a 16-million-strong user base the state-owned incumbent leads Myanmar’s race for mobile users. However, with Telenor’s subscriber tally coming in at just under 12 million late last month, its long-held first-place ranking could be at risk.
Myanmar, which is one of the last underdeveloped telecommunication markets in Asia, lags behind its neighbours in Southeast Asia. Only few people have access to fixed telephone lines here. Since the first Internet connections were established in 2000, Internet services in Myanmar still remain slow and unstable. Faults due to construction work causes frequent connection failure and are often not repaired.
Myanmar Times — The state-owned operator initiated its AOC alerts system on October 9. After every phone call, the system alerts customers to how much money they have spent and how much top-up credit remains on their phone. This makes it easier for users to spot errors in their phone bills and to monitor the impact of promotions on their calling balance.
Establishment Post — Earlier in September, Jiang Zhengxin – vice general manager of China United Telecommunications Corp. –revealed that the company has been contracted to construct China’s first international undersea cable linking China and Myanmar improving Myanmar internet access.
Myanmar Times — Continued downward pressure could put the speed of future investments in jeopardy, he told The Myanmar Times in an interview on September 15 during Myanmar Connect, held by Capacity Conferences in Nay Pyi Taw. “If [prices are pushed] farther down there will be question marks around the quality of service for consumers going forward and how much we will continue to invest in the market,” Mr Meza said.
Myanmar Times — The Ministry of Communications and Information Technology began the tender in July, with the winning company or consortium to be partnered with a foreign company of the ministry’s choosing. The operator is ultimately to join Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT with a Nationwide Telecommunications Licence. Another operator called MecTel, tied to military-linked Myanmar Economic Corporation, has a licence that allows it to operate a Mobile Virtual Network, but no Nationwide Telecommunications Licence, according to an August list of licences from the ministry.
Myanmar Times — “Once, my income came mostly from the phone shop,” she said. “Now, I can’t depend on my phone. I get only one or two customers all day. “My income now depends on snack buyers.” It is not only Daw Ni Ni Mar’s shop in Latha township that has seen such a drop – the so-called Public Communications Operators (PCOs) are quickly disappearing from the streets of Yangon.
Myanmar Times — Internet troubles seem to have started earlier for state-owned Myanma Post and Telecommunications (MPT) and international competitor Telenor Myanmar, than Qatari firm Ooredoo Myanmar. MPT ran into technical difficulties on August 13 around Myawaddy, where the firm connects to Thailand. On the morning of August 14, COO of the firm’s joint operation Yoshiaki Benino said that a fibre cable had been cut somewhere in the jungle and had already been fixed.
Myanmar Time — The state-owned operator, which prior to 2014 had a corner on the telecoms market as its only player, currently leads Myanmar’s three-horse race for users with more than 14 million customers at the end of July. Telenor reported more than 10 million users in July and Ooredoo, 4.3 million at the end of June. The firm targets 70 percent area coverage this fiscal year.
Myanmar Times — The flooding – the worst some residents say they have seen in decades – has damaged equipment and in some cases completely submerged tower sites, Ooredoo, Telenor and Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) said this week. Telenor Myanmar said on August 3 that around 30 to 35 sites were inaccessible out of more than 2500 – meaning 1.2 percent of its sites were in trouble.
Myanmar Times — Ooredoo and Telenor, which recently announced financial results for the second quarter of 2015, have been locked in fierce competition, along with state-owned incumbent Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) in a battle for users across the increasingly connected country. Ooredoo said in a July 29 press release it had racked up 4.3 million Myanmar customers by the end of June – representing an increase of 1 million users over the previous quarter.
Myanmar Times — The winning proposal will ultimately be partnered with a foreign company, and will likely compete head to head against Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT, which have all received integrated licences already. Speculation has surrounded which companies would receive a fourth licence that was first announced in passing in state media in June 2013.
Myanmar Times — State-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) and Yatanarpon Teleport (YTP) said they had closed sales to focus on “expanding capacity” and increasing broadband speed. Despite their efforts Myanmar’s internet remains frustratingly slow. The country is ranked 159 out of 198 by Net Index for consumer download speed, averaging five megabits per second (MBps).
Myanmar Times — “The biggest surprise for Telenor is that 55 percent of our customers are data users on a monthly basis – most on smartphones,” he said. “Yes, Myanmar people like to talk – they are talking more and more. But more interesting is that the growth of data is much quicker than the growth of voice. Voice traffic grew 93pc from January to June, but data usage grew 196pc over the same period.”
Myanmar Times — And though still determined to steer clear of “meaningless” price wars, the firm has cut calling rates for its Swe Thahar and CDMA customers to K23 per minute, which undercut standard tariffs from its foreign competitors, Ooredoo and Telenor. The telco’s target – more than 5000 base stations by spring 2016 – would mean MPT’s service coverage would blanket about 70 percent of Myanmar’s geographical area and more than 90pc of its people, according to Mr Nagashima.
Myanmar Times — The state-owned telco had formerly maintained the highest per-minute prices after the launch of Telenor and Ooredoo. Although the providers offer different packages, Telenor and Ooredoo both charge K25 a minute for base tariffs, while MPT had charged K35 a minute for users of its Swe Thahar plan.
Myanmar Times — At the basic level, one minute of a voice call using MPT costs K35 with its Swe Thahar plan, except to three specific numbers where the cost is K25. Telenor and Ooredoo’s fees per minute have been slightly lower so far than MPT’s. The telcos also offer package deals with different quotas of internet and calls which allows for some lower prices. Speaking at the opening of the MPT shop in Nay Pyi Taw’s Myoma market on June 21, MPT official U Thein Hote said the price reduction is still being discussed.
State-owned MPT is still the mobile phone market leader, claiming 65 percent of all SIMs in the market, though its foreign rivals are also growing rapidly. MPT was the sole telecoms service provider until August last year, when it was joined by first Ooredoo and then Telenor. As of the end of March, MPT had 18.4 million SIMs in the market, while Ooredoo had 3.3 million SIMs and Telenor 6.4 million SIMs, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology permanent secretary U Khin Maung Thet said.
The tax, while currently on the books, has not been enforced due to a sector-wide exemption, said MCIT director U Than Tun Aung. “The commercial tax has been implemented last year but because at that time the telecoms sector has been tremendously improving … the Union Government as well as the Parliament decided to give benefits to the population first, so they gave the industry a one-year exemption for the commercial tax,” he said at the Nay Pyi Taw press event yesterday. That exemption will close soon as an amendment to the Commercial Tax Law came into force on April 1, said an MCIT press release.
KDDI, which on May 12 released its financial report for the fiscal year ending March 2015, stated that launching operations in Myanmar had boosted revenues for its global services segment, with the segment’s operating revenues posted at 320.6 billion yen (US $2.7 billion) – up more than 20 percent over the year prior. The company first officially entered Myanmar last July when it joined Sumitomo Corporation in setting up a subsidiary, KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM), to assist state-owned MPT in competing with then-forthcoming international telcos Ooredoo and Telenor.
Qatar-based Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor were awarded licences to operate in Myanmar in February last year. Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), formerly the country’s monopoly provider, initially struggled to keep up, but then rebounded with support from Japanese firms KDDI and Sumitomo. The two foreign providers initially made rapid inroads by gathering up the low-hanging fruit presented by urban markets. But most of the population is in rural areas, where infrastructure is weak, slowing the pace of mobile penetration, U Thar Htet, managing director of Zwenexsys company, told The Myanmar Times yesterday.
Competition has been increasing in the market since Telenor and Ooredoo entered the market last year, and MPT began a significant revamp with support from Japanese firms KDDI and Sumitomo. MPT has extended promotional prices for users of its Swe Thahar plan, offering half-priced internet beginning in March. It also allows MPT users to call three other MPT numbers at K25 a minute, a discount from its usually K35. Last year, MPT provided a 20 percent bonus from April 12 to 21, though it currently does not plan a similar bonus for its non-Swe Thahar users this year.
K1500 SIM cards, quality phone connections and zippy internet are now close to the norm for urban dwellers. But while Yangonites, Mandalarians and residents of Nay Pyi Taw have had the choice of Telenor, Ooredoo and MPT for six months, that is far from the case elsewhere in the country. Myanmar’s telecoms race is in full swing. Tower companies are rapidly putting steel in the ground further and further from the largest cities, while fibre and microwave links are connected, generators fired up and equipment switched on.
After signing a partnership with Japan’s KDDI Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation, it has quickly moved to modernise its operations and launch new tariff deals. Its latest mobile plan, Swe Thahar, cuts voice and SMS prices and changes the way MPT charges customers for internet usage, from by-the-minute to by-the-megabyte. KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM) managing director Takashi Nagashima, MPT general manager Khin Maung Tun, chief technical officer Kenichi Ono and other company officials sat down with a small panel of journalists