Saturday, June 24, 2017
The Myanmar Times
The Myanmar Times

Ooredoo user growth rate doubles

Ooredoo Myanmar has racked up more than 5.8 million customers across the country according to the company’s results for the end of 2015 – 1 million more than it had three months earlier.

A man talks on his mobile phone outside an Ooredoo SIM card shop. Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing / The Myanmar TimesA man talks on his mobile phone outside an Ooredoo SIM card shop. Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing / The Myanmar Times

In the October to December period, the Qatari operator added twice the subscribers it had gained over the three months to September 30, 2015, a dramatic improvement in its user acquisition rate.

Facing stiff competition in the market, Ooredoo recently switched its strategy and began deploying a new, mass-market approach, a move Ooredoo CEO Rene Meza said has paid off.

“I think the biggest achievement in the quarter has been that our mass-market strategy is working,” Mr Meza said.

“You can see a decline in [net new customer] acquisition for some of the players in the market, whereas we see an opposite trend.”

Despite the user base bump, Ooredoo remains firmly in third place behind its competitors, which both have millions more customers.

State-owned incumbent Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) has about 18 million users, while Norwegian operator Telenor – which like Ooredoo won a licence for nationwide telecoms services in 2013 – nips at MPT’s heels with 14 million subscribers.

Together, Ooredoo, Telenor and MPT have sold nearly 38 million SIM cards in Myanmar.

Mr Meza said Ooredoo spent more than US$350 million in 2015 and finished the year with over 3400 tower sites, up from about 1200 at the end of 2014. “That pretty much brought our network coverage to 80 percent of the population on 3G, which is a pretty remarkable achievement, and probably a world record in emerging markets,” he said in an interview last month.

Ooredoo’s full-year financial results presentation said the company’s 3G network now covered more than three-quarters of Myanmar’s population. Mr Meza said the company anticipated spending about $350 million in 2016.

In the future, Ooredoo will continue driving smartphone use in the market, expanding network coverage and capacity and making data services affordable, Mr Meza said yesterday, adding that nearly nine out of every 10 Ooredoo customers uses data.

Ooredoo’s Myanmar business drove more than QAR1 billion ($292 million) in revenues in 2015. For the fourth quarter, revenues came to QAR283 million – up 4 percent over the previous quarter – and accounted for 3.5pc of total consolidated revenues for the period.

Though earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) stayed in the red for 2015, it improved from negative QAR357 million in 2014 to negative QAR76 million, according to an Ooredoo press release.

Meanwhile, average revenue per user has declined from $6.50 in Q2 and Q3 to $4.70 in the fourth quarter.

Telenor measured ARPU at K5995 ($4.84) for the fourth quarter of 2015. In its results, the Norwegian operator pinned a 4pc decline from normalised ARPU in the third quarter on “tougher competition” and “network expansion into low ARPU rural areas”.