Telenor gears up to offer a Myanmar record for data speeds

AS MOBILE data consumption in Myanmar soars to some of the highest levels in the world, Telenor Myanmar plans to offer its subscribers a record speed for the country of 1 gigabyte per second (Gbps) in the near future, said Lars Erik Tellmann, the firm’s chief executive officer.

Tellmann said at a press briefing on Wednesday that a speed trial showed the company had clocked the fastest Internet speed achieved in Myanmar with the application of advanced technologies, including Licensed Assisted Access (LAA) and an LTE feature to deliver a performance boost for mobile device users.

The firm has joined with Ericsson Co to boost the data speeds it can offer amid rapid growth in the country’s ranks of smartphone users.

“Data consumption is rapidly increasing here. Video services and social media are consuming a large sum of data. Going forward, it may be a double increase in the near future or even more,” he said.

He said the monthly average usage for Telenor’s 4G customers has reached 5.6 gigabytes, higher than the average data consumption rate of developed markets in Asia including Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan and South Korea.

Ericsson Co has predicted that global mobile data traffic would increase eight times by 2022, with video being increasingly dominant. Erik Tellmann foresees Myanmar’s data consumption could grow even more than Ericsson’s projection.

“Myanmar has a growing hunger for mobile data. In the past few years, average consumption was only 1GB per month. Within a very few years, it has grown to nearly 6GB. It is a really impressive figure,” he said.

He said Myanmar is future-ready as almost everyone has a smartphone. Statistically, more than 80 per cent of the network now have a smartphone. According to the Global System for Mobile Communications Association, 95 per cent of global mobile data traffic will come from smartphones in 2023.

Tellmann said his company firm now offered Myanmar’s widest and fastest mobile network, covering more than 90 per cent of the population – in all states and regions – with over 8,000 sites. Its 4G network is available in more than 140 cities and towns across Myanmar.

The company aims to build thousands of more sites over the next few years in a bid to expand its rollout. Tellmann considers the trial result as a remarkable breakthrough for Myanmar’s telecommunications industry, which accounted for 47 per cent of foreign direct investment in the 2016-17 fiscal year.

“With this speed trial, we have showcased that our network is capable of meeting increased future demand. Today’s successful trial reached 5G speed levels, and this is another major step in our network improvement here,” Tellmann said.

He believes smartphones will drive data growth in Myanmar in the near future, as the people are familiar with data-intensive applications. He claims the trial has demonstrated the firm’s 5G readiness.

In terms of data consumption, Yangon leads the way but the firm sees a bright potential for growth in other major cities, including Myitkyina, Mandalay, Bagan and Taunggyi.

Having invested more than US$2 billion, the firm will continue to spend on improving coverage and quality. Over the past 12 months, the telco has invested an additional US$160 million in acquiring new spectrum for its 4G services to serve 19 million subscribers in Myanmar.

“We’ve had a very fantastic journey in the past three and a half years since our launch in Myanmar. We hope to enjoy further growth in the future, as we have invested a lot in this market,” Tellmann said.

Driven by continuous investments in its network, the firm was recently awarded the top ranking for mobile network speeds in Myanmar by Ookla, a leader in Internet speed testing. Based on data from the second half of last year, Telenor provided faster average speeds than its main rivals, MPT and Ooredoo.

According to Tellmann, roaming facilities are in place for the majority of countries around the world including every country and territory in the Asia Pacific. Earlier this month, the firm introduced a new data roaming promotion plan for its customers travelling or working in Thailand, Malaysia, mainland China, Taiwan, Singapore, Bangladesh, Pakistan and Indonesia.

Telenor subscribers in these places are now able to browse the Internet for only 8 kyat for every megabyte (MB) they use – the same as the local rates, saving up to 99.95 per cent. The standard roaming rates in Asian countries and territories usually start from 500 kyats per MB.

Currently, Telenor subscribers can use roaming services with 152 partners in 117 countries and territories. The firm’s 4G roaming service is available in mainland China, Taiwan, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Japan, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Macau and Norway. Subscribers of 193 operators from 124 countries can use their overseas SIMs with the Telenor network in Myanmar.

“You no longer need to change SIM cards when you visit these countries. You can keep your SIM card in, and can easily use data at a reasonable price,” Tellmann said. “That is why we call it ‘Roam like home’.”

Source: The Nation

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