Myanmar's MPT beefs up network to compete with Telenor and Ooredoo

Myanma Posts & Telecommunications (MPT) is gearing up to compete with its two new rivals in Myanmar, saying it anticipates adding "millions of new users by 2016."

The incumbent operator, which now faces competition from Ooredoo and Telenor Myanmar, is modernising and expanding its network by deploying new core switching infrastructure from U.S.-based company Dialogic.

"With the market opening up, we looked for a solution that would give us the geographic redundancy, scalability and unique bandwidth optimisation necessary to stay competitive," an MPT official said in a release from Dialogic.

MPT has already reached an agreement with KDDI and Sumitomo Corp. to jointly develop "Japanese quality" telecoms services in the country, and clearly recognises the requirement to improve the quality of its services and network in order to remain competitive.

Ooredoo and Telenor Myanmar are now at an advanced stage with their respective commercial launches: Ooredoo has already launched commercial services in three cities, and said it gained 1 million subscribers in just three weeks amid extremely strong demand for its services. Earlier in August, Telenor Myanmar said it will make 10 million SIM cards available when it launches commercial services in the country in September.

With a population of around 60 million, of which less than 10 per cent had access to mobile services prior to the new launches, Myanmar represents a strong business opportunity for operators.

However, the market is fraught with difficulties: already, Telenor Myanmar has discovered that contractors constructing its mobile network have been using child labour, while in June, Buddhist monks called for consumers in Myanmar to boycott Ooredoo because the company is headquartered in Qatar, where the majority of people follow Islam.

Cynthia Gordon, chief digital services officer at Ooredoo, said during a keynote session at the TM Forum Live conference in France in June that Ooredoo has also been forced to take unusual measures to deploy its network in Myanmar, such as using oxen to carry equipment, while new solutions such as community hubs have to be considered for charging mobile phones because of the limited electricity coverage.

For more:
- see this Dialogic release

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