VIDEO INTERVIEW: Myanmar may have one of the lowest teledensities in the world, but Nick Swierzy (pictured), chief strategy officer for Ooredoo’s Myanmar operation, is confident that advanced services – running over the operator’s all-IP network – will prove popular in a short space of time.
Flagging up the likes of mobile health and money services, Swierzy told Mobile World Live there was a big opportunity to go beyond the traditional talk and text model.
“We think we can get Myanmar using advanced services more quickly than other markets,” he said.
Qatar’s Ooredoo, along with Telenor, fought off stiff international competition to win a telecommunications licence in Myanmar. The plan is to make 3G commercially available first in the cities of Yangon, Mandalay, Naypyidaw – and the corridors that link them – by the end of this (Q3) quarter.
Swierzy doesn’t see lack of consumer mobile knowledge as an issue in Myanmar’s main cities. As part of its licence bid, however, Ooredoo has committed to building rural tele-community centres to highlight the benefits of mobile services and applications.
“Grass-root programmes will help educate communities,” said Swierzy, pointing out that Ooredoo has a target of covering 97 per cent of Myanmar’s population in five years’ time.
Swierzy acknowledged that getting the Myanmar operation up and running – on a profitable basis – is far from easy.
“We’re building everything from the ground up,” he said. This includes basic infrastructure, the training of national employees, and working with relevant (but inexperienced) authorities on the coordination of network build.
Swierzy added that the nature of the Myanmar rollout had “forced innovation”, particularly on powering base stations and phones.
But getting costs to align with revenues is key, and a more difficult trick to pull off in low-ARPU markets. To help lower costs, Ooredoo is not only looking to share power infrastructure with competitors, but also to share passive network equipment.
“Infrastructure sharing is very important and we have a unique opportunity with our competitors to get sharing right from the beginning,” said the strategy chief. “It’s common practice [in other markets] to share retrospectively, but that makes it very difficult to put the jigsaw together.”
Another aim is to have a workforce comprising over 99 per cent nationals by the end of year 5, which also helps align the cost structure with revenue.