Myanmar racks up 50 million mobile subscribers: operators

Image credit: Victor Maschek /

Myanmar’s three main operators – incumbent MPT, Ooredoo and Telenor – said in a joint announcement that they have signed up a total of 50 million mobile subscribers between them since launching services over the last three and a half years.

With Myanmar’s population standing at 52.8 million at the end of 2016, according to the World Bank, that’s a penetration rate of close to 95%. In 2013, Myanmar’s teledensity was just over 12%, and mobile services were notoriously expensive – famously, a SIM card cost around $300.

The telcos gave credit to the government’s efforts to liberalize the telecoms sector starting in 2013. Real competition kicked off in August 2014 when Ooredoo launched commercial services – Telenor launched a little over a month later.

The statement didn’t break down those figures by operator. However, earlier this month Telenor said its 4G network covers over 120 cities with more than 19 million customers. Ooredoo said its 4G+ network covered 200 localities in Myanmar and is available to over 15 million customers.

Last year, the Ministry of Transport and Communication granted a fourth mobile license to Myanmar National Tele & Communications (MNTC) – a.k.a. MyTel – a venture between Viettel, Myanmar National Telecom (a consortium of 11 local companies) and Star High Public Company (owned by the military-controlled Myanmar Economic Corporation). However, MyTel has not yet launched services – it expects to do so sometime this year.

MPT, Ooredoo and Telenor said they “reaffirmed their commitment to further progress mobile network growth, in particular to rural areas, and effort to provide much-needed investment for the deployment of cutting-edge 4G infrastructure and services to better serve the public.”

The companies also pledged to comply with the government’s floor pricing outlined in its Pricing and Tariff Regulatory Framework, issued in June 2017, which prohibits practices like free distribution or sales of SIM cards, and subsidizing services and handsets below cost.

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