Telenor to target data services as ‘hyper growth’ in subscribers eases

Telenor Myanmar plans to focus on improving data services amid an easing of rapid subscriber growth that followed the liberalisation of the telecoms market in 2014, Reuters reported.

“Super hyper growth has flattened,” Telenor Myanmar chief executive Mr Lars Erik Tellmann told Reuters in an interview on November 2.

Myanmar had a mobile phone penetration rate of about 10 percent when Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo entered the market in 2014, breaking the monopoly held by state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications.

Penetration rates have since soared to about 90 percent, an MPT official said in July, and the increase has influenced the shift to more lucrative internet services, a strategy driven partly by Facebook’s dominant position in Myanmar.

“Those who wanted to have a SIM card already have one … The fight will turn into existing customers rather than new, virgin customers who have never had experiences in cellphones,” Tellman said.

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“Everyone has jumped into mobile, there’s no fixed line alternatives and very few have PCs while internet penetration remains extremely low,” he told Reuters. “That explains why everyone is so hungry for their smartphone and their ability to be online.”

As of the third quarter, about 40 percent of Telenor’s revenue in Myanmar came from data services, Tellmann said, while the remaining 60 percent was from traditional sources such as voice calls and text messages.

The company has built 6,800 telecoms towers and plans to build 3,200 more by the end of 2018.

The report quoted industry experts as saying MPT, which formed a partnership in 2014 with Japanese companies KDDI and Sumitomo Corporation, has about 21 million subscribers.

Telenor is second with 18 million subscribers, and Ooredoo has reported 9 million.

Vietnamese carrier Viettel said in April it planned to form a consortium with two Myanmar companies to invest a combined $1.5 billion in the telecoms sector if it is granted Myanmar’s fourth, and last, telecom licence, Reuters reported.

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