MPT Talks Coverage Increase MPT Talks Coverage Increase

MPT Talks Coverage Increase

MPT Talks Coverage Increase

MPT will more than double the number of base stations in its network to 5000 by the end of March 2016 to serve its user base, currently at about 13 million active subscribers, according to KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM) managing director Takashi Nagashima.

And though still determined to steer clear of “meaningless” price wars, the firm has cut calling rates for its Swe Thahar and CDMA customers to K23 per minute, which undercut standard tariffs from its foreign competitors, Ooredoo and Telenor.

The telco’s target – more than 5000 base stations by spring 2016 – would mean MPT’s service coverage would blanket about 70 percent of Myanmar’s geographical area and more than 90pc of its people, according to Mr Nagashima. Still, the next step to 80pc geographic coverage, will be “very challenging” due to the nature of the land.

“Those areas will be all mountain areas and forest areas,” he said.

Although the executive said the rollout has been “so far, so good”, he also noted the rainy season and red tape present challenges. Increasing its base stations requires dealing with a large number of stakeholders, Mr Nagashima said – an issue MPT helps its Japanese partners navigate. However, discussions can create uncertainty.

“So far, [we’re] a little bit behind schedule, partially – however, we were doing very well,” he said.

The firm, which is Myanmar state owned but has a management contract with Japan’s KDDI and Sumitomo, will be leasing towers from tower companies as well as building brand new ones.

MPT recently cut its call tariffs for its Swe Thahar and CDMA customers from K35 and K50 per minute to K23 per minute, though did not announce a price drop for its GSM users who have not switched to Swe Thahar. Mr Nagashima said a price drop earlier could have resulted in poor services for customers, “but right now, we can provide them with quality services”, he said. “But still, I don’t like to get into a price war.”

“If we get into a price war, we have to reduce our investment and our time. That means we cannot provide more quality services to our subscribers and it is very difficult for us to expand our service coverage, and eventually no one can survive,” he said. “So still I believe we have to avoid those meaningless price wars.”

MPT has been forced to adapt quickly as fresh competition in the form of foreign entrants entered the market last year. Ooredoo Myanmar and Telenor Myanmar launched their operations at the end of 2014 and by the first quarter of 2015 had racked up 3.3 million and 6.4 million subscribers, respectively.

While signage for MPT’s competitors seems to cover every tea shop and billboard in downtown Yangon, Mr Nagashima says the firm’s visibility has until this point been very low – but that is changing.

“From now on, you can see MPT everywhere,” he said.

The company will also look to up its number of branded shops to exceed 100 by the end of next March.

Meanwhile, the state-owned operator is working on another tricky issue: interconnectivity between it and its rivals.

Mr Nagashima said MPT’s network was not designed to interconnect with other operators – not a surprise, considering that for decades it was Myanmar’s lone telco. The operator is currently working on increasing the number of lines tying it to its competitors, but to increase interconnectivity MPT may require time and resources.

The company targets a monthly selling rate of about 1 million SIM cards, though that figure could depend on demand.

“The telecoms market is changing, and at the same time MPT has to change,” Mr Nagashima said. “To do so we are here to help MPT … We are here to help the Myanmar people.”
Source: Myanmar Times

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