Mobile penetration reaches half the country

Mobile penetration rates have increased to over 50 percent, according to the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology.

State-owned MPT is still the mobile phone market leader, claiming 65 percent of all SIMs in the market, though its foreign rivals are also growing rapidly.

MPT was the sole telecoms service provider until August last year, when it was joined by first Ooredoo and then Telenor. As of the end of March, MPT had 18.4 million SIMs in the market, while Ooredoo had 3.3 million SIMs and Telenor 6.4 million SIMs, Ministry of Communications and Information Technology permanent secretary U Khin Maung Thet said.

This totals 28.1 million SIMs in the market as of March 31, representing a penetration rate of 54.6 percent. The recently-released census figures showed 32.9pc of people had a phone as of a year ago.

That translates into a 65pc market share for MPT, 22pc for Telenor and 11pc for Ooredoo. MPT’s lead is expected, as the company has been selling SIM cards for years, while Telenor and Ooredoo have had less than a year in the country.

Different measures exist to quantify what is an active SIM card, though the industry standard to declare a SIM active is that it has conducted an event like a call or accessed the internet at some point in the past three months.

The three main telcos are now locked in a struggle for subscribers while extending coverage across the country. The companies have been recently dropping tariffs, with Telenor and Ooredoo also offer some rates that are lower than MPT’s. Notably, Telenor charges K25 a minute on voice calls and Ooredoo charges K20, while MPT charges K35 for most numbers.

U Saw Htoo Thar, an official with the ministry, said that he cannot comment directly on market strategy pursued by different companies.

“We are not competing in a short-duration race. We are competing for a long distance,” he said. U Saw Htoo Thar said that MPT had offered some programs like Swe Thahar so people can use cheaper services.

MPT has a joint operations agreement with KDDI and Sumitomo Corporation from Japan.

(Quote from Myanmar times online website on 2 June 2015)