AN EXPANSION in Ooredoo Myanmar’s fourth generation (4G) network will be the key plank of the telecommunications operator’s business plans for this year.
Vikram Sinha, chief executive officer of Ooredoo Myanmar, claimed the company offered the strongest and widest 4G coverage in Myanmar. He has committed to ramping up its 4G network rollout over the next few years.
“We have big plans for 2018 and are working hard on the network upgrade,” Sinha said. “We will never stop our network expansion. We are continuing to expand to more and more townships every month. Everyone in this country deserves to be connected.”
To date, the company has coverage of more than 200 townships across Myanmar under its 4G Plus network, reaching two-thirds of the country’s townships. As of the third week of December, two states and one region - Kayah, Chin and Tanintharyi - were yet to come under its 4G network.
In a short period, the telecommunications operator managed to cover 14 states and regions as well as the union territory, Nay Pyi Taw.
“Today, we have covered over 87 per cent of the population. By the end of this year, we are sure to cover a minimum of 92 per cent of the population in Myanmar,” Sinha said.
He said the firm had invested nearly US$200 million to expand the reach of its 4G network. Last week, it invested an additional US$80 million to acquire an extra 10MHz spectrum in the 1800MHz frequency band to speed up its data services. “We want to make sure that users have the best experience in using mobile data through Ooredoo’s network,” Sinha said. “Over the past few months, I have spent most of my time visiting rural areas to learn about the opportunities we can bring to the people there. Obviously, it has made our services more efficient.”
According to Sinha, the firm has invested over US$2 billion in Myanmar, and more than 8 million people across the nation have been using Ooredoo SIMs. He said both these numbers would increase thanks to the company’s network expansion and recent reforms to make its SIMs compatible with any device. “In the past, Ooredoo SIM only worked in Slot 1. Now it can be used in any slot with any kind of mobile device. We now have nationwide coverage of 2G, 3G and 4G,” Sinha said.
He said the 4G rollout expansion has been carried out in cooperation with two key partners, Nokia and ZTE. The firm will continue to keep an eye on the use of 4G devices in small towns. “Once a town is ready, we will go there shortly,” he said.
The firm has plans to educate consumers in both urban and rural areas. It will also focus on offering innovative services. Last month, it launched a direct carrier billing service in Myanmar in partnership with Fortumo, a global mobile payments company.
“Now is the digital era, and all of us need to leverage on digital to have advancement in our daily life,” he said. “We want to introduce the digital lifetyle to the people of Myanmar to enjoy the seamless access for digital entertainment in their daily lives.”
He said the partnership with Fortumo marked the establishment of the carrier billing service in Myanmar. All users of the company can now make payments for digital content - including from app stores, streaming services and games - by charging purchases to their mobile account.
The firm is supporting BarCamp Yangon 2018, to be held on January 27-28, as an official telecom partner. It is sponsoring Myanmar Idol Season 3.