Telenor and Ooredoo Expand Fiber Optic Networks in Myanmar


Norway-based telecommunications operator Telenor says its subscriber base in Myanmar has crossed 10 million. Sources say that Telenor’s competitor in Myanmar, the Qatar-based Ooredoo has lesser than 500,000 subscribers. Both Telenor and Ooredoo have been strengthening their networks by installing fiber optic cables across the country. Myanmar started witnessing large scale fiber optic deployments ever since the country opened its telecom sector for global competition.

Last year Myanmar had opened its telecommunication market for global competitions by inviting telecom operators through a tender. Before the tender, MPT, the state-owned telecommunication operator was enjoying the monopoly leading to a tardy and sluggish telecom market in the country. The two foreign companies now have a total of more than 14 million customers, underlining the massive growth in mobile phone use in the country. One year ago the state-owned Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) was the only provider of mobile phone and internet services.

The latest figures from each operator suggest that Telenor is pulling ahead in the race to reach new subscribers in Myanmar. Norwegian Telenor and Qatari Ooredoo were the first two private companies to be awarded telecoms licenses in the country. The government is set to open up a tender for another license, but only local companies, or joint ventures involving a local firm, are being asked to apply.

In quarterly results published on July 22, Telenor Group said that its Burmese venture “continues to exceed our expectations” and had passed the 10 million subscriber mark in July. There is a strong demand for voice and data services in Myanmar and that demand keeps driving revenues and profitability for telecom service providers in Myanmar.

Telenor continued their network installation in the second quarter of April to June and further expanded the network reaching 213 of a total of 330 townships at the end of June. The speed of their network expansion is the key challenge as approximately 70 percent of the Myanmar population lives in rural areas.

Ooredoo had reached a mobile subscriber base of 4.3 million. The quality of its 3G network services had contributed to almost doubling the number of customers in the first half of 2015. The quarterly results from Ooredoo indicate that it’s Myanmar venture is in profit, but is lagging behind its main rival Telenor. MPT also has teamed up with two Japanese firms to expand its services and reportedly has some 11 million subscribers.

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