While most of the attention in Myanmar’s mobile sector has been on the two new foreign players Ooredoo and Telenor, state-owned incumbent Myanma Posts & Telecommunications (MPT) sold more than one million SIM cards in September.
MPT, which signed a joint operating agreement with KDDI-Sumitomo in July, now has 9.2 million mobile connections, according to GSMA Intelligence.
The deal with the Japanese firms is intended to help the operator upgrade its infrastructure in the capital Yangon and other cities as well as improve its marketing efforts. The operator has refreshed its logo, expanded its call-centre operations and was the first in the country to introduce discounts for calls to a designated list of friends/family.
KDDI and Sumitomo are expected to invest about $2 billion in the country over the next ten years.
Qatar-based Ooredoo was the first of two foreign firms to launch commercial service in the country’s three major cities and said it had one million customers at the end of August. The company has committed to investing $1 billion this year to roll out 800-1,000 3G base stations to cover 30-40 per cent of the country’s population by the end of the year.
Telenor Myanmar launched mobile service in Yangon at the end of October, after a two-week delay, and claims to have “released” one million SIMs in the capital in just one day. The company said it had needed more time to optimise its network as it has faced difficulties rolling out the network during the rainy season as well as delays processing approvals for cell towers.
Telenor officially launched service in the country’s second-largest city of Mandalay on 27 September and coverage in Nay Pyi Taw followed about a week later. It now has more than one million SIM cards in circulation in the two cities (giving it a total of well over two million across the country).
Given the difficulties Ooredoo and Telenor have faced in negotiating site rentals and securing legal tenancy due to land ownership and documentation challenges in the country, some analysts think MPT is in a strong position to defend its market share since it has an existing base of about 2,000 sites and established connections at the local and national level.