Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ministry ready to support 4G networks

As soon as operators are ready to launch a fourth-generation network in Myanmar, the communication ministry will release the necessary spectrum, said the deputy minister.

Telecoms in Myanmar has come a long way in a short time. Photo: EPATelecoms in Myanmar has come a long way in a short time. Photo: EPA

U Thaung Tin said his ministry will not deter operators from using more advanced technology.

“If operators want to launch a 4G network for their subscribers, we are ready to support the spectrum,” he said.

The 4G Long Term Evolution, or LTE, networks are faster than their third-generation, or 3G, counterparts. They also require more expensive handsets and use up more data, requiring users to add credit to their phones more often.

To date, 4G networks are not available in Myanmar.

Operators Telenor Myanmar and state-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) offer both 2G and 3G services, and Ooredoo Myanmar operates a 3G network.

Ooredoo would consider offering a 4G network service if enough mobile users switched to LTE-enabled smartphones, spokesperson Thiri Kyar Nyo told The Myanmar Times.

“The quality of our 3G network is almost as high as a 4G network, so we won’t upgrade the service if only a few people will use it. If all our subscribers switch to a 4G handset, we will provide the network,” she said.

Telenor’s Myanmar network is 4G ready, and the operator will consider providing fourth-generation services once there are sufficient LTE enabled mobile phones in use in Myanmar, according to its website.

MPT told The Myanmar Times earlier this year that it had plans to provide for LTE phones, but was held back as licences had not yet been issued.

U Thaung Tin said Myanmar had around 36 million SIM card users by the end of October. However, most have a relatively cheap smartphone, said mobile user U Kyaw Zayar.

“People can buy a SIM card for K1500 and a phone for K20,000. If operators were to offer 4G services, I don’t think many people would be able to afford the phones. Later, if cheap 4G smartphones come on the market, this service could be well received,” he told The Myanmar Times.

If operators upgrade to a 4G network, service charges are unlikely to fall, said U Zaw Zaw Myo Lwin, CEO from Yangon Heartz Media.

“Mobile users would like a faster connection. But if operators supply a 4G network, they will have to add equipment to all their towers and commission new towers, and the service charges will rise,” he told The Myanmar Times.

Operators continue to expand their 3G networks across the country, with Ooredoo Myanmar launching in Ayeyarwady Region in October and Telenor Myanmar due to switch on its network in Chin State later this year.