Low cost SIM cards expected to drive up mobile penetration

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Since the announcement by President Thein Sein in March about the new low price SIM card – the Myanmar people has been waiting in anticipation for its arrival. The new SIM card will supposedly be priced between K20,000 to K30,000 and can be top up.

Currently GSM SIM cards that can be top up are sold for K200,000 while CDMA chips are sold for K250,000.

Foreigners and tourists are currently buying single-use SIM card for K20,000 (approximately USD 20). After the 22 minutes of usage time expire – the SIM card is discarded and you buy a new SIM card with a new number.

We know of many foreigners that are in Myanmar for short-term projects that use like 1 single-use SIM card every week. When the SIM card expires they have to buy a new single-use SIM card and inform all their friends of the new number. It is extremely inconvenient and inefficient.

The President office has promised that the new low cost SIM card will be distributed to all major cities in Myanmar in order to increase mobile ownership across the country.

Mobile retail shops that we interviewed are enthusiastic about the new low price SIM card as it will lead to an increase in mobile phone ownership in Myanmar. Mobile phone penetration is less than 6% in Myanmar – one of the lowest in Asia. With a population of 60 million people and a promise by the government to cut price on SIM card and to open up the telecom market to foreign investors– there is only one direction it can go and that is up.

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