In May 2017, mobile operators in Myanmar were offered the possibility to acquire 2x10Mhz in 1800Mhz. This precious spectrum allowed them to launch / re-launch 4G nationwide.
Since then, the average mobile Internet speed in Myanmar jumped from 7mbps to 12mbps (see the recent report from Ookla).
Mobile operators are progressively deploying their new 4G network in Myanmar main cities. Effects are immediately visible for Myanmar consumers that can finally enjoy high speed Internet. At least within the urban areas.
Where 1800Mhz is a good fit for urban deployment, it is not cost effective for rural coverage. Mobile operators still have a lot on their plate to provide high speed Internet all over the country and especially in remote areas.
To support these coverage efforts, Myanmar Post and Telecommunications Department (PTD) opened a consultation for the allocation of E-GSM spectrum. E-GSM matches LTE band 8 and therefore can be used to extend 4G coverage.
At the current stage of allocation, Ooredoo, Telenor and Mytel own respectively 2x5Mhz where MPT owns 2x10Mhz.
Earlier this year, Telenor and Ooredoo were granted temporarily an additional span of 2×2.5Mhz. This temporary allocation will expire in February 2018 when the E-GSM allocation will more likely be granted.
In total, 2x10Mhz in 900mhz will be made available next year. Saying that, PTD may decide to keep 2.5mhz as a guard band to avoid interference. The remaining spectrum of 2×7.5mhz could be auctioned in two flavors. First option could be 3 allocations of 2×2.5mhz, second option would be one allocation of 2×2.5Mhz and one of 2x5mhz.
Note that considering the current spectrum allocation, only Ooredoo would be able to get contiguous spectrum with its existing allocation.
The consultation looks open at the moment, PTD expecting the mobile operators to share their intentions regarding this new spectrum. The main takeaway is that 900mhz will not be sufficient to support the four mobile operators needs when it comes to 4G deployment in rural areas.
700Mhz in approach
The consultation ends by mentioning that a new band will be open soon for consultation. Band 28 (700Mhz) sees a growing popularity across the globe and could represent a decent consolation prize for those that would give a pass on E-GSM.
Over the past few years, the telecom sector in Myanmar has seen a very steady growth. It is key to understand the major role played by Myanmar PTD in this growth. By opening the dialogue with the mobile operators, anticipating needs, and sharing a clear spectrum roadmap, PTD instigates a constructive approach of mutual benefits for all parties.
Source: MOTC Website
Herbert is a nom de plume.
I am an experienced telecom professional blogging about the fastest growing Internet market in the world: Myanmar.