Telenor Myanmar turns one

Telenor Myanmar is celebrating its first birthday, having launched its service in Mandalay one year ago.

On September 27, 2014, the firm officially became Myanmar’s third mobile operator about 8 months after it got its licence by launching services in Mandalay on 70 sites. Its foreign rival, Ooredoo Myanmar, had arrived in the city several weeks prior, also beating Telenor to Nay Pyi Taw and Yangon.

The road to rollout had been potholed by issues with building permits and weather. Telenor missed its October 5 deadline to turn on in Yangon, but the company took its time in the name of network quality.

“We emphasised to the government it is important for Telenor to have good quality before we launch,” Mr Furberg said at a press conference last year. “We cannot sell and charge for something that isn’t real.”

The market, as a last mobile frontier, has not always been an easy place to launch a network.

Over the last year the company has weathered challenges, including child labour cases in its supply chain and the task of building in some of the worst flooding Myanmar has ever seen.

Now, it is close to entering all the country’s states and regions. Telenor has two more to go before it has launched across Myanmar – Chin and Rakhine states – which will see services very soon, according to the firm. Population coverage has reached 50pc.

The telco currently leads the market on price and has trumped competitor Ooredoo Myanmar on subscriber figures over the year. For the company, Myanmar has been full of surprises, according to Telenor CEO Petter Furberg.

“[We’re] very proud that we passed 10 million customers in less than a year and that’s significantly above what we expected,” he said. “I am also very positively surprised by the data pickup – the hunger … has been much higher than we assumed.”

With its 2G and 3G technology mix, the telecom differentiated from competitors on its target market: the bottom of the pyramid.

However, with data demand so strong, the company has adjusted its strategy, Mr Furberg said

“Our original strategy before we saw the data uptake was that [3G] would mainly be a city thing,” Mr Furberg said. “We realised data demand was significantly higher … [and have implemented] the strategy gradually from the beginning of this year to deploy 3G on absolutely all our towers.”

More than half of Telenor’s users engage with data, and over two-thirds of customers are on smartphones, according to the company.

“We now have 100 percent towers on 2G and 3G, and as of now we have the biggest 3G network of any operator in the country, measured in terms of number of base stations and 3G.”

Together with its competitors, Ooredoo Myanmar and state-owned incumbent Myanma Posts and Telecommunictaions (MPT), Telenor Myanmar has driven teledensity to an all-time high in Myanmar.

Source: Myanmar Times

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