Myanmar growth needs to reach rural areas, minister says in keynote

18 September 2018 | James Pearce

Cover

Myanmar’s telecoms market has seen great strides over the last few years, but it still has ways in which it can evolve, according to the opening keynote of Myanmar Connect 2018.

The Capacity-ran conference, in its sixth year, was opened by U Soe Thein, director general, PTD from the Myanmar ministry of transport and communications.

It has been over six years since the government first opened up the market to outside investors by offering mobile licenses to Telenor and Ooredoo.

U Soe Thein said: “We can see how the mobile sector has grown remarkably as a result of the liberalisation. But an access gap still exists in rural areas.

“The mobile operators and fixed providers are now entering a new chapter of price competition. This needs to be accompanied by a new era of digital service and content to support this.”

He showed slides to back this up. In 2013, he explained, it cost around $2000 (US) to buy a SIM card in Myanmar but now it costs just over $1, with four mobile operators in the country instead of one.

In total, Myanmar had over 53 million subscribers in Q2 2018 with a total of 67,978.71km of fibre in operations, compared with 7600km in 2013. The total international internet bandwidth now tops 445.30Gbp – up from 30Mbps.

Despite this growth, there are still challenges, the minister said. “At the moment, we can say that the telecoms sector has improved dramatically in just a few years but we still have a long way to go. We need to focus on connecting more people in rural areas but also need to focus on achieving a good quality of service for all people, and focus on creating an open access framework and coordination on implementation.”