It was in May 2017 that the mobile operators in Myanmar received a first allocation in the 1800Mhz band by the Posts and Telecommunications Department. 2x40Mhz were granted, 2x35Mhz left and offered on a first come first served basis.
This initial spectrum grant provided a huge boost to the mobile data performance in Myanmar. Boost which reflected very clearly on the mobile speed reports for 2017.
Over the past few weeks, Telenor and then Ooredoo communicated on a new investment consisting on an additional 2x10Mhz span which extend their allocation to 2x20Mhz in total.
As of MPT, the public operator did not release any official statement but their latest press release suggest they did follow the same road. And they would be fool not to do the same.
In their last press release, MPT announced several network improvements enabling customers to enjoy mobile speed up to 300mbps. When we look at the figures, 300mbps could only be achieved by using a 2x20mhz span on LTE with 4x4MIMO and 64QAM which may suggest an additional allocation on their end.
Spectrum is the most valuable and precious resource for mobile data and has a significant and immediate impact on the throughput performance. By doubling their spectrum span, every operator has the theoretical capability to double 4G speed.
Price, Speed, Coverage
Recently we published an article about the evolution of mobile data prices in Myanmar. For the first time, mobile data prices have increased and every operator is aligned on very close price point.
It is still unclear at that stage if the mobile operators decided or were enticed by a public authority to not compete on price. Saying that, it is certainly good news on the long run as the mobile operators would have to work on new key selling points such as speed, coverage or value-added content.
And the latest press releases are going in that direction
Consecutively each of the mobile operators released a statement which whole purpose is to convince the customer that they each run the fastest but also the widest 4G network in Myanmar.
Award-winning LTE+ network
MPT was honored last year by the award of the fastest mobile data network in Myanmar and is proud to call itself since, the award-winning LTE+ network.
MPT released a very tech-savvy statement on its latest technology improvements. Thanks to VoLTE, MPT customers will now enjoy high quality calls on 4G. The public operator also powered up carrier aggregation in downtown Yangon that will allow customers with compatible handsets to benefit from higher Internet speed.
Coverage wise, MPT released a second statement announcing that its LTE+ network is available in 82 townships with a plan to extend to 280 townships by the end of 2018.
As of Telenor, the Norwegian operator reminded us that OpenSignal elected it last year the fastest 3G network in Myanmar. Telenor also announced that it already covered in 4G the 50 main cities in Myanmar which represent two-third of the urban population.
Ooredoo was the last to strike but definitely wanted to surpass competition at least on the coverage. It is a fact that the Qatar based operator has not much to say about mobile data speed. The last reports showed that Ooredoo lags behind Telenor and MPT in that matter. Coverage wise, Ooredoo proudly announced that it is by far the widest 4G network in Myanmar with two-third of the Myanmar townships covered (200 townships in total).
Even if we truly welcome the mobile operator efforts to bring high speed Internet everywhere in Myanmar, we cannot help questioning these statements and wondering what truth is really hiding behind it.
What does covering a township really mean for a mobile operator?
Does it involve providing steady and consistent LTE coverage across the entire township? Or simply lighting up one site for the sake of ticking a box on a coverage sheet?
Truth is probably somewhere in the middle…
Glimpse of reality, OpenSignal gives a cold view of the actual 4G activity all over Myanmar and one certainty is that the road is still long till Myanmar people enjoys the thrills of high speed mobile Internet across the country.
The mobile operators are working hard to improve connectivity. Lets just hope they will not lose themselves into trying to be the best in public relations. At the end of the day, Myanmar customers are not naive and will choose the provider offering consistent performance all along their daily journey commuting between work and home.
Herbert is a nom de plume.
I am an experienced telecom professional blogging about the fastest growing Internet market in the world: Myanmar.