Today, our Yangon Internet journey brings us to Tamwe, in the east of Yangon.
Disclaimer: this exercise does not aim to be a detailed benchmark on the mobile operator’s performance but a sneak preview into the Yangonite always-connected daily life.
A quick reminder on the test protocol:
Speedtest.net: the most famous speed test worldwide.
This is an excellent tool for a quick assessment on the network performance. Every operator in Myanmar hosts a speedtest server. That means that testing the operator against its own server results in testing its radio / transmission and core network, leaving the international IP transit aside.
Fast.com: Netflix speedtest
Netflix streaming service is available worldwide including Myanmar. The American entertainment company recently released a speed test against its own servers to help customers evaluating their ISP performance. As quality of experience is key for Netflix, this test will definitely be a good hint on the customer experience journey.
Our Home made tool: IiM v1.1
As we were unable to find a tool really fulfilling our needs, we decided to build one. The objective is to evaluate how long a customer would need to load a bunch of popular websites.
To tailor our test to the local customer experience, we picked the most popular sites in Myanmar according to Similarweb.
This is the list:
Note: we removed pcloud.com from the list as it is a file sharing service and it did not seems relevant for our test bench.
If you are looking for more Internet statistics, take a look at the following post: Key Internet Statistics in 2020.
We developed a small script that will load each site one by one and output the loading time.
Combined these different tests and the results will certainly be close to the real customer experience.
Lets go shopping
That is the end of a busy week. Weekend is coming and we take the opportunity to combine a quick shopping session with a rapid lunch in one of the popular mall in town: Ocean Supermarket in Tamwe.
These large concrete structures are typically challenging for mobile operators as wireless signal struggle to reach the lowest floors. The usual workaround is called In-Building Service (IBS) that aim to resolve the in-building network coverage problems by installing signal “repeaters” inside the building.
It is only the second chapter of our Internet journey in Yangon and our test protocol already starts to raise some valid questions.
What do we do if the mobile network is so bad that we cannot even run the tests?
Shall we move to a new location? That won’t be fair for the other operators. Shall we disqualify the bad performers? That is an option.
At Ocean Tamwe, the restaurant area is situated at the ground level. That’s bad news for you, mobile operators. It goes without saying that the food court is the main spot where customers would be looking for Internet connectivity. Having a weak coverage at that floor is a big red flag that needs to be addressed quickly.
Well, we can tell you bluntly that two of the mobile operators failed our tests at first floor.
First, we were not able to get any 3G signal with Telenor and get stuck with 2G. We believe no customer will be patient enough to load ten websites in 2G, we were not that patient either.
Second, we got very weak 3G and 4G signal strength with Ooredoo and the mobile data performance was awful, the test failed after the two first websites, even after several attempts.
In the other hand, MPT provided good 3G performance and performed the tests in no time.
So shall we call it a day and close our benchmark with a winner by KO?
Well, we really want to be merciful and show the bright side of the mobile operators in Myanmar even if it could be challenging sometimes.
Fortunately for the two bad performers, there is another joint at 2nd floor. Hopefully by getting some altitude and thanks to the mall’s wide glass windows, we should get better signal to close our test bed.
Another espresso smoothie later…
That was a good smoothie but a bit too sweet.
A quick reminder of the forces in presence:
- Ooredoo 4G LTE
- Telenor 3G
- MPT 3G
So lets start by the usual Speedtest.net:
The results are much better at second floor. MPT is very consistent at any level of the mall with solid performance for a 3G mobile network between large concrete walls. We assume MPT is using IBS to cover the mall.
Telenor 3G signal strength is high at second floor and the performance is good enough for web browsing and streaming a couple of videos.
As for Ooredoo, the bandwidth test is the highest of the benchmark with nearly 8mbps. The telecom operator also provides the lowest latency. It is a major improvement compared to first floor and the connection with our handset was stable and consistent in this floor.
Fast.com results are quite similar. By comparing speedtest.net and fast.com results, we can conclude that there is no congestion issue at the IP Transit level.
Telenor Fast.com results are a bit disappointing though but the main bottleneck remains (as often) the access layer.
Our homemade tool: IiM v1.1
Compared to our first location, there is a match this time and the operators are really close to each other.
As we noticed in the previous speedtest, Telenor is a bit behind but the difference between the three operators is tiny.
In any case, we have to award a clear winner and when it comes to Ocean Supercenter in Tamwe, MPT is definitely the fastest telecom operator. MPT was the only operator that provides a satisfactory download speed at ground level where all the restaurants are located. Plus, it was faster than Ooredoo 4G in our home made benchmark.
Once again, the result raises a serious concern about 4G. If you have ever experienced a 2G mobile network, you definitely see the huge performance gap that exists between 2G and 3G.
Seeing LTE network so close to 3G and even behind 3G in some tests demonstrate that this 4G launch was done in a rush and a desperate attempt for a marketing coup.
Hopefully, the spectrum auction in 2017 will help the operators to provide a real 4G experience to their customers.
That is it for our quick shopping session in Tamwe. Stay tuned for the next location!
Herbert is a nom de plume.
I am an experienced telecom professional blogging about the fastest growing Internet market in the world: Myanmar.