ANALYSIS: Telenor Myanmar to increase cell sites to meet demand
Telenor Myanmar has revealed that it plans to build more base stations in Myanmar in a bid to provide better service quality and coverage.
The moves comes just a year after the launch of its services in the country, and ahead of the arrival of the fourth operator.
The operator presently has over 3,000 sites across Myanmar – providing coverage to more than 53% of its population – and aims to construct over 8,000 sites in total,. So far the company has completed building about a third of the sites in a process that is expected to take another three to four years.
In July 2015, Telenor Myanmar announced that it had surpassed 10 million subscribers. The operator added 9.5 million subscribers at the end of Q2 while rival Ooredoo gained 4.3 million customers during the same period in comparison.
Telenor Myanmar – along with its competitors – has pledged to provide network coverage to 90% of the country’s population within the next five years.
“We want to do our part in building network competency in Myanmar,” said Tor Odland, vice president at Telenor. “It has been a challenge for all operators to keep building the network rapidly. We are trying to build additional capacity in areas where we are seeing a lot of traffic.”
The need to expand network coverage and improve service quality has been largely fuelled by huge interest and demand for internet access, notes Odland. “About 55% of our customers are using the internet. That is higher than any Asian countries we are operating in, even higher than Thailand,” he said. Telenor Group presently has six operations in Asia: Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand, Malaysia, India and Myanmar.
“There is a very large curiosity as the country had no real access to the internet previously. Applications and services like Facebook and astrology have driven the demand. Purchasing power is becoming greater than we thought so people have been able to spend a bit more,” he added.
Telenor Myanmar will need to overcome several hurdles to make its network expansion a reality in a country still plagued by a weak land registry, as a result of decades of military rule.
“There is no central land register in Myanmar so you have to develop a thorough proper review of land that you want to build on and establish proper leasing agreements for each site,” he said, adding that the operator has experienced several land disputes. “This is something we are still working on.”
Competition will further intensify with the entry of the fourth operator in the market. Odland said Telenor welcomes the competition and has “always expected” a fourth player in the market.
Providing faster data connections at affordable fees will be a key part of its strategy. The operator claims it presently offers the lowest rates for voice and data services in the country. “We bring 20 years of experience in large markets, along with working out how to provide high-class mobile services at lower prices. We have established how to succeed in the market,” said Odland.