RedLink has been around for a while. 2008 to be exact when it launched services in Yangon and Mandalay. Back in the days, mobile Internet was just a fairy tale and RedLink represented one of the only means to connect to Internet. It was pricey and sluggish but it was the only way. At that time, RedLink meant Internet in Myanmar.
RedLink journey lasted 9 long years and came to an end 2 days ago. Forever.
RedLink is dead, Hail to RedLink !
Redlink operated all these years a Wimax network on 2.6Ghz band, frequency that it does not own officially. Taking advantage of the blurry situation in Myanmar when it comes to telco regulation and more likely out of goodwill, the Myanmar Internet Provider benefited during all these years of an informal mean to provide Internet connectivity to Myanmar customers.
In 2016, 2600Mhz was auctioned and the big winners were Amara Communications and Yatanarpon Teleport. Therefore, RedLink was requested to release the frequency band which would lead inevitably to its close of business or at least to the end of its Wimax network.
It appears clear now that RedLink failed to communicate officially the news to its fellow customers which lead to a wave of protests on the social networks. But the signs of the operator decline has been there for some time.
First sign: Redlink has been laying off a considerable amount of employees over the past 6 months.
Second sign: a month ago, RedLink showroom in Myanmar Plaza closed due to a dispute about unpaid rent.
“RedLink broke the lease agreement for retail space in Myanmar Plaza, signed between HAGL Myanmar and RedLink Company,”
Last month, some of RedLink corporate customers were invited to find a new provider. But the rest of the customers were not aware of what was going to happen.
Not an April Fool
Finally, April 1st, RedLink customers had the unpleasant surprise to find their Internet modem disconnected forever. RedLink customer service unreachable forever too.
So why such a sloppy exit?
It goes without saying that RedLink had some time to prepare a clean exit. The 2600Mhz auction winners were announced in October 2016 which gave the Myanmar ISP at least 5 months to communicate properly the news to its customers.
But it sounds like milking the cow till the last moment was a better priority than to walk away with its head held high. As angry customers tend to say on the social medias, RedLink died the way it lived: with a total absence of customer care.
RedLink cease of business coincidentally matches with the birth of a new ISP: 5BB Broadband which happens to be the B2C arm of Globalnet, RedLink sister company. What a surprise.
“Nothing is lost, nothing is created, everything is transformed”
As the brand RedLink is stained with an image of bad support / high prices / bad quality, it becomes very clear that its investors have decided to start over with a clean sheet, building a new ISP from scratch with a a new name and a new image. The name itself 5BB Broadband tends to pull the rug from under the launch of the 4G spectrum winners.
Amara Communication and Yatanarpon Teleport are preparing their 4G launch, event that promise to be massive considering the amount of money both operators just spent on licensing fees.
As 5BB Broadband does not own any spectrum, the newly born ISP mainly relies on wire, leveraging the huge fiber network owned by Globalnet in Yangon to provide FTTH services to end customers.
It looks like the diabolic plan is all set but will not play without a hitch.
Yangon Electricity Supply Corporation (YESC) which Globalnet relies on to support its aerial fiber network has decided to revisit the rights to use the poles in Yangon.
Globalnet is now in an uncertain position to pursue its fiber rollout. As FTTH is quite fiber intensive, it is still very doubtful that 5BB Broadband will be quickly able to provide the same coverage as Redlink used to offer in Wimax.
A partnership with one of the new 4G players is not something unthinkable to rapidly expand the coverage of Redlink 2.0 aka 5BB Broadband.
Herbert is a nom de plume.
I am an experienced telecom professional blogging about the fastest growing Internet market in the world: Myanmar.