Five years ago, Myanmar remained one of the last underdeveloped telecommunication markets in Asia, however this gap is being bridged quickly with a focus on mobile and mobile broadband services and exploding growth in that sector. By 2019 Myanmar was four years into a telecoms boom that has dramatically changed the physical and technological landscape of the country, since the sector was opened to foreign competition in 2014.
Fixed broadband penetration in Myanmar remains extremely low mainly due to a limited number of fixed lines as well as the dominance of the mobile platform and an unwillingness by operators to invest in fixed broadband infrastructure. However, by 2019 a number of new fixed broadband service providers were emerging, installing fibre below or above ground for fixed line broadband access.
One factor behind home broadband pricing falls is the entry of the telcos into the home broadband market to compete directly with existing ISPs. Over the next five years to 2023 the market is expected to grow very strongly but overall market penetration will remain extremely low compared to other nations.
Myanmar’s mobile market has experienced very rapid growth in recent years, driven by the entry of three new competitors in the market, increasing the number of operators from just one to four. This has dramatically increased market competition.
By 2019 the mobile market was approaching saturation and was seeing increased competition over data prices. Average revenue per user dropped further with the entry of a fourth operator- Mytel.
Mobile broadband has experienced rapid growth over the past five years, driven by rapid growth in the mobile sector. Because telco reform came very late Myanmar, it has essentially leap frogged past fixed broadband access to mobile devices access for internet services.
Strong growth is predicted over the next five years however at a slower rate due to increasing maturity in the market. The mobile broadband market will be driven by increasingly faster speeds offered by the mobile operators as they roll out 4G and eventually 5G networks.
BuddeComm notes that the outbreak of the Coronavirus in 2020 is having a significant impact on production and supply chains globally. During the coming year the telecoms sector to various degrees is likely to experience a downturn in mobile device production, while it may also be difficult for network operators to manage workflows when maintaining and upgrading existing infrastructure. Overall progress towards 5G may be postponed or slowed down in some countries.
On the consumer side, spending on telecoms services and devices is under pressure from the financial effect of large-scale job losses and the consequent restriction on disposable incomes. However, the crucial nature of telecom services, both for general communication as well as a tool for home-working, will offset such pressures. In many markets the net effect should be a steady though reduced increased in subscriber growth.
Although it is challenging to predict and interpret the long-term impacts of the crisis as it develops, these have been acknowledged in the industry forecasts contained in this report.
The report also covers the responses of the telecom operators as well as government agencies and regulators as they react to the crisis to ensure that citizens can continue to make optimum use of telecom services. This can be reflected in subsidy schemes and the promotion of tele-health and tele-education, among other solutions.
Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT); Telenor Myanmar; Ooredoo Myanmar; KDDI; Sumitomo; SingTel, Digicel; Qatar Telecom; Viettel Group; Vodafone, Myanmar National Tele & Communications (MNTC).
Paul, May I congratulate you on a very successful and enjoyable afternoon with the Minister. In providing the roundtable discussions between government and industry, it highlighted the strong interest by stakeholders in Broadband and its implementation but it also presented us with other issues and opportunities that we need to address.
Dominic Schipano, CITT
BuddeComm's strategic business reports contain a combination of both primary and secondary research statistics, analyses written by our senior analysts supported by a network of experts, industry contacts and researchers from around the world as well as our own scenario forecasts.
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