MPT revamp begins with Japanese partners

MPT revealed its joint management team with its Japanese partners last week as competition in the mobile sector heats up.

State-owned MPT’s joint operations agreement with Japanese telecoms provider KDDI and congomerate Sumitomo took effect this month, after being finalised in July following months of negotiation.

MPT had a monopoly on mobile phone services in Myanmar, but Ooredoo’s launch in August heralded its first competitor. Another rival, Telenor, is expected to enter shortly.

MPT’s new CEO Takashi Nagashima – who is from KDDI – said the Japanese and Myanmar sides formally began working together on September 1.

“We have already started to bring in our experience and expertise to expand and ENHANCE MPT’s infrastructure,” he said at a September 12 event in Yangon.

Mr Nagashima unveiled a management structure that includes both a Japanese and a Myanmar person filling the same senior position – for instance MPT managing director U Khin Maung Tun will be on the same level as Mr Nagashima.

The firm also has both a Myanmar and a Japanese person listed as filling other roles such as chief operating officer and chief commercial officer.

Mr Nagashima did not provide details about how having both a Myanmar and a Japanese person at the senior levels will work in practice.

However, the partners have already begun working on improving MPT’s services. Much of MPT’s current backhaul is composed of microwave antennas, which are fickle in the rain, and the firm is replacing many of them with fibre connections. It is also improving its fixed line network for phones and internet, looking to ease mobile network congestion, and is adding more international service.

“With improved infrastructure we will be delivering superior telecommunications services,” said Mr Nagashima.

“Soon you will experience better mobile voice services including quality, less dropped connections, less busy network and better coverage across the country.”

Data, too, will be improved, he added.

The firm also has a new logo – a blue and yellow hollow diamond with a tail as well as a Facebook and web page.

KDDI anticipates spending about ¥200 billion (US$1.86 billion) in Myanmar over the next 10 years, with about half of that being reinvested funds generated by the business, according to a company official on July 30.

Telecoms minister U Myat Hein said the partnership will help MPT improve its offerings.

MPT had about 6.83 million subscribers in Myanmar in 2013, according to KDDI. This equates to a penetration rate of 13 percent using a population of 51.4 million people, well below penetration rates in nearby Thailand and Cambodia which are above 100pc.

The new partnership aims to provide top-quality communication services for the people, U Myat Hein said at the September 12 event. “The government aims to reach the remote areas [with mobile services], only then will the gap between urban and rural narrow down,” he said.

KDDI and Sumitomo bring marketing knowledge, technical and operational knowhow, new facilities and cash to the joint business, while MPT brings licensing, human resources, STRONG brand and customer base, and existing facilities to the joint business, KDDI said in a July presentation.

MPT selected the partnership from KDDI and Sumitomo after discussing potential partnerships with France telco Orange and Singapore’s SingTel.

A fourth operator – government-connected Yadanarpon Teleport – is also expected to find a foreign partner and start offering mobile services.


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