MOTC publishes white paper on broadband and 5G adoption

19 Feb 2020

Myanmar’s Ministry of Transport and Communications (MOTC) has published a white paper on facilitating faster broadband and 5G adoption, recommending new broadband penetration targets as well as potential regulatory strategies to achieve these goals. The paper suggests setting penetration and speed targets by technology and along an urban/non-urban divide for 2020 and 2024 as follows:

For urban areas:

· 5% at 20Mbps via fixed technologies by 2020

· 15% at 20Mbps via fixed-wireless technologies by 2020

· 50% at 100Mbps via fixed technologies by 2024

· 50% at 100Mbps via fixed-wireless technologies by 2024.

For non-urban areas:

· 3% at 10Mbps via fixed technologies by 2020

· 20% at 5Mbps via fixed-wireless technologies by 2020

· 20% at 30Mbps via fixed technologies by 2024

· 60% at 30Mbps via fixed-wireless technologies by 2024.

To reach these targets, the white paper recommends making improvements to regulations to ease infrastructure deployment. Specifically, the paper suggests addressing right of way (RoW) challenges, which it identifies as a ‘key barrier to expanding Myanmar’s broadband penetration and coverage’. In a similar vein, the MOTC’s Post and Telecommunications Department (PTD) should be tasked with establishing a national infrastructure database to enable a ‘check before you dig’ service that would help minimise accidental damage to existing networks. The PTD would also look to encourage greater infrastructure sharing, covering both existing systems and the deployment of new fixed broadband and 5G infrastructure.

Meanwhile, the paper also recommends the release of additional spectrum, though TeleGeography notes that this process is already underway, with the PTD having published a roadmap for the release of airwaves in early 2019. That timeline – intended to steadily provide greater resources to industry players whilst striking a balance between affordability for telcos and revenue generation for the government – will see the state auction 2300MHz, 2600MHz and 3500MHz frequencies later this year, with a tender for 700MHz airwaves to follow in 2021 and 850MHz and 900MHz to be made available in 2022. The subsequent two years would then see the release of additional 3500MHz spectrum (2023), and other 5G-suitable frequencies, such as the 1500MHz, 4.8GHz and 26GHz bands (2024).