On June 9th, Mytel officially launched service in Myanmar and became the 4th mobile operator in the country.
MyTel is 49% owned by Viettel, a Vietnamese enterprise controlled and operated by the defense ministry. MyTel’s other shares are held by Star High (28%), a subsidiary of Myanmar Economic Corporation (MEC). The remaining 23% are owned by Myanmar National Telecom Holding, a consortium of 11 local companies.
The new mobile player was awarded a telecom license in January 2017 against a $300 million fee, substantially less than Telenor or Ooredoo.
Since then, Mytel has deployed 7,000 BTS and rolled out 30,000 Km of fiber all over the country. Mytel operate a 2G and 4G network that cover more than 70% of Myanmar population.
As the last player in a fast growing market, Mytel ambition is to gain market share quickly and target 3 millions subs by the end of 2018.
Hopefully, Mytel can leverage on Viettel vast experience abroad as the Vietnamese operator already operate in ten countries besides Myanmar.
Viettel has a reputation across the globe of being very aggressive on price. We will see later in the article that this is also true for Myanmar.
Mytel aims for the countryside
Viettel is also known for being extremely ambitious on coverage privileging a blanket coverage deployment. In Myanmar, the main cities are already highly penetrated. Therefore, Mytel strategy is to win the rural areas first and slowly step into the cities.
Glaring example of this strategy is Mytel initiative to offer customer service in Shan language. Mytel aims to become the #1 mobile operator in the wealthy region of Shan which share common border with China, Laos and Thailand. The fourth mobile operator in Myanmar is also offering free roaming for subscribers traveling to Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos.
A few days ago, Mytel announced that it reached one million subscribers, just 10 days after the launch in Yangon. This marketing stunt is not entirely exact as the new operator has been selling SIM cards since March. Nevertheless, it is still an impressive performance for the new comer.
Ooredoo in danger
Myanmar in 2018 is a highly penetrated market where mobile users own mainly multi-SIM smartphones.
As such, a 100%+ penetration does not necessarily mean that the entire population owns a mobile phone but more likely that a large number of subscribers use at least two SIMs.
As Mytel invests heavily in the rural areas, it is very possible that these subscribers are part of the remaining untapped mobile market.
In the other hand, the fourth operator plays a very aggressive pricing strategy on data. The clear objective is to jump into the customer phone initially as a second SIM used mainly for Internet.
Ooredoo is probably the most threaten by the new comer as it owns the smallest number of subs and as such does not have the “community” effect that could help it remain into the customer phone.
When we look at Mytel pricing, it is clear that PTD has granted the new mobile operator the right to play on unregulated territory at least for a few months.
It is important to understand that the mobile operators in Myanmar are strongly regulated on prices. Even if these floor rates are not disclosed, it is quite easy to guess that the promotion floor rate is around US$1 per GB. Saying that, Mytel average internet rate is at US$0.5 per GB. Huge difference.
It goes without saying that the other mobile operators are not going to be happy by this special treatment.
Some may wonder if the military stakeholders of Mytel are not helping the new comer to play by a different set of rules. Let’s hope it is not the case and this promotion is just the regulator temporary support to gain traction in the market.
Mytel has also launched broadband service in Myanmar and offer very attractive rate. The prices are comparable to Telenor Broadband which is one of the most affordable service providers in the market.
Mytel claims to install FTTH service within 3-5 days. Service coverage remains unclear at this stage.
Herbert is a nom de plume.
I am an experienced telecom professional blogging about the fastest growing Internet market in the world: Myanmar.