Norwegian-backed cellco Telenor Myanmar has delayed the launch of services in Yangon by around a week in order to prepare its coverage in the city, Myanmar Times writes, citing CEO Petter Furberg. Telenor has installed 305 towers in the city, but says it needs more time to optimise the system to improve performance and service quality. Mr Furberg added that to achieve a ‘perfect 3G experience’ Telenor will have to increase the number of towers in Yangon to around 800. At the moment, the official explained, the cellco’s 2G services is available ‘everywhere’ in Yangon, whereas 3G will be more limited with patchy indoor coverage. Telenor is expecting to begin offering services in Yangon between 25 and 30 October and in all but one of the city’s 44 townships. Elsewhere, Furberg noted that users in Mandalay have been experiencing dips in call quality and internet access speeds during peak hours, due to the higher-than-expected volume of customers using the network. To alleviate these issues Telenor has outlined plans to roll out additional towers in the city.
Meanwhile, Telenor has been plagued by the same SIM shortages as its rivals Ooredoo and Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT). According to Furberg the issue was in the distribution chain, with around a third of the 1,500 sellers in Mandalay left without SIMs to sell when the cellco launched its network there in late September. The shortage has been made worse by the continuing trend for users to purchase additional SIMs with a view to selling them on the black market. To discourage the practice Telenor began limiting the number of SIMs each customer can purchase to one per ID card. Further, customers will be obliged to purchase credit with their SIMs. For the upcoming launch in Yangon the cellco has said that around one million SIMs will be available from 6,000 retailers. Eleven Myanmar however, cites a source from a mobile shop in the city as saying that the number of SIMs made available from Telenor has been limited to around 200 per shop: ‘Our shop wants 400 SIM cards but they said they can offer only 200 [but] big shops are said to get 400 cards. Also we can’t sell the cards at a price higher than what the company has fixed.’