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Between the lines of Telenor Myanmar CEO interview

Telenor Internet Myanmar

Lars Erik Tellmann, Telenor Myanmar CEO has just released a very interesting interview to Myanmar Times.

We are not here to paraphrase the interview that you can read here.

In a nutshell, Telenor is living an amazing success story in Myanmar with outstanding results driven by mobile data.

Through this interview, Telenor Myanmar CEO shares with Myanmar Times readers a lot of very crunchy figures about its mobile data business.

64% of Telenor customers are data users

That is 11 million internet users.

To put it in perspective, the average mobile data penetration in ASEAN was 28.4% in 2014.

Telenor achieves impressive results on data penetration. Still, it is really important to question these numbers and to understand how the Norwegian group measure data users.

It is actually quite easy to claim 64% data users in a market with 80% smartphone penetration (according to Mizzima).

When customers turn on their phone for the first time, they automatically receive their mobile operator Internet settings via OTA (Over The Air). The phone is then connected to Internet and may try to update its system and apps without the customer consent. Can we call it a data user? Probably not. So smartphone penetration can explain such high figures in data mobile penetration.

360 terabytes of daily data consumed

We don’t think Telenor inflates its figures but it is always best to cross check.

If Telenor define data users as any user that consume at least 1KB of data in a month, it will probably end up with a lot of users with very low data consumption and revenue. When Telenor blends it, its data ARPU will be definitely low.

Data subs and data ARPU are the two main KPIs that mobile operators track down when it comes to their mobile data business. But at the end of the day, factor them and you get your data revenue which is an intangible value you cannot play around. By inflating the data subs, you will dilute your data ARPU and same the other way around.

To cross check that the mobile data penetration has been properly estimated, we will have a deep look at the data ARPU and data consumption.

First, Lars Erik Tellmann declared his customers consume 320TB of data each day. That is impressive.

Considering 11M data users, that is 874MB of data per sub per month.

According to Ericsson mobility report (November 16), the average data usage per smartphone in Asia is 1.7GB. This is APAC not ASEAN so it includes mature mobile market such as South Korea and Japan.

Ericsson Mobility Report Nov 16 - Smartphone Data Traffic
Ericsson Mobility Report Nov 16 – Smartphone Data Traffic

Thailand and Hong Kong mobile data usage in 2015 was at 1GB/month according to The Nation and Tefficient. Singapore customers consumes an average of 1.2GB/month according to the same source.

The interview figures make sense. There is still room for growth for Myanmar but results are promising.

Lets look at data ARPU now. Telenor CEO stated that 40% of his revenue come from data.

According to Telenor Q3 2016 report, its total quarterly revenue was 1435 millions NOK. We can easily estimate the data ARPU at 1,95$/month.

Now that we obtain the data ARPU and average data usage, we can get the blended price per GB and compare it to Mr Lars Erik Tellmann statement.

We get a blended price per GB at 2.9 MMK per MB whereas Telenor CEO is claiming its packages to cost between 5 MMK to 6 MMK per MB.


Not really. As the executive said in its statement, Telenor offers Facebook free up to 150MB per day on every package. With 54% of Telenor total traffic being Facebook, the price dilution makes total sense.

So what else can we get from this interview?

A traffic breakdown! Telenor CEO was very detailed regarding his customer favorite applications. From his statement, we can build an interesting pie chart:

Mobile Data Traffic Telenor Myanmar
Mobile Data Traffic – Telenor Myanmar

Anything left?

In a recent post on Ooredoo internet night packs, we explained a quick method to turn Mbps into MB. As Mr Lars Erik Tellmann gave us its daily network consumption, we can try to guess the IP transit capacity that Telenor is buying from overseas and confirm our initial statement (that this capacity is higher than 10Gbps).

Total traffic daily = 360 TB

Applying an utilization factor of 60%, maximum total daily traffic= 614 TB

Total daily consumption in MB for 1Gbps of traffic= 10,8 TB

Total Telenor traffic in Mbps = 57 Gbps

We know that Telenor is using caching and CDN to save on international transit and improve quality of experience. Assuming that these solutions save the mobile operator half its bandwidth, that is still 28.5 Gbps of international IP transit just for mobile data. We are indeed above 10 Gbps of traffic.

As we can see, there is a lot to say from this interview and we welcome Telenor CEO transparency and clarity that help us to better understand the mobile data business in Myanmar.

Telenor is definitely living an excellent momentum in Myanmar and we understand now why its entire strategy is heading toward data. There is clearly an opportunity to leverage the current data penetration by increasing usage and then revenue. By exploring the fixed business, that is also one new revenue line to add up to is P&L with convergence opportunities in the near future (triple or quad play).



3 thoughts on “Between the lines of Telenor Myanmar CEO interview”

  1. As usual – a great article!
    One minor thing I’m wondering is that — from reading the interview, I have the following traffic breakdown. Not that it’s that far off from those mentioned in article.
    Facebook (54%) + Other web browsing (16%) => 70% of total traffic.
    Youtube (21%) + other streaming (9%) => 30% of total traffic.

    1. Dear Emi,

      Our sincere apologies, you are totally right, we misunderstood this sentence in the interview.

      We just corrected the pie chart.

      Thank you again for your interest and constant support.

  2. Thanks again for your article.
    I have one additional question: assuming that MPT is #1 in Myanmar thanks to X,xxx sites when will Telenor become #1 with Y,yyy sites?

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