MPT refuses to engage in price war with newcomers

21 Jan 2015

State-backed incumbent Myanmar Post and Telecommunications (MPT) has refused to engage in a ‘price war’ with its new competitors Telenor and Ooredoo, officials from MPT and its partner KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM, a joint venture of Japanese firms KDDI and Sumitomo) said in an interview with the Myanmar Times. The operator, which claims eleven million active subscribers, explained that whilst it has introduced new tariffs and plans these must be affordable and sustainable: ‘If we go now into a price war we are worried that we cannot invest in [network coverage] expansion and other necessary services.’ Officials pointed out cases in Laos, Cambodia and India where early price wars cut down the funds available for investment in infrastructure, and where large areas are still limited to 2G networks, describing these examples as a ‘failure of the liberalisation of the market.’ ‘If that situation happens,’ they went on, ‘the customer suffers most…Our first priority should be to establish a nationwide network and next, to provide services at affordable prices.’

Concentrating on developing its network, MPT is rolling out an HSPA+ enabled 3G network and plans to deploy a further upgrade to dual carrier (DC)-HSPA+ ‘very soon’. Although MPT is looking to provide better coverage and service quality than the newcomers, the officials stressed that MPT does not have privileged access to government land for building towers, saying that they ‘are also struggling to build new towers. We are not getting special benefits from the government.’ MPT went on to say that many of its towers are too ‘fragile’ to be suitable for sharing, with ‘less than 100’ available at the moment. Nevertheless, the telco is in talks with Ooredoo and Telenor, and is hoping to start sharing towers once it completes an assessment of its towers’ ‘robustness.’