RANGOON — State-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) has plans to expand its 3G mobile network to cover 90 percent of Burma’s population by the end of next month, increasing the number of subscribers with access to the service by roughly 50 percent.
In an announcement Thursday, the telecoms operator said it hoped the expansion would be completed by the end of February, with an additional 5 percent coverage area added in March. According to the MPT statement, only 60 percent of the population has 3G access currently.
“Expanding networks here is our top priority,” said Koichi Kawase, chief commercial officer of MPT-KSGM, adding that MPT currently runs the largest 3G network in Burma.
Myo Gyi, a user of multiple telecoms providers in Burma, said extending mobile reach to rural areas by constructing cell towers had been particularly beneficial to the service provided by MPT, which faces increasing competition from rival foreign firms.
“Because it’s been building more towers in rural areas, MPT’s network line is good compared with other service providers,” he said.
MPT lays claim to the most subscribers nationwide, though two foreign firms, Ooredoo of Qatar and Norway’s Telenor, have made inroads since they launched mobile services in 2014. The state enterprise had previously enjoyed a monopoly on cellphone service provision in Burma.
After foreign telecoms operators began operating in Burma, MPT sought to strengthen its hold on a majority market share by working with Japanese-owned KDDI, one of the largest telecoms companies in Japan. In July 2014, KDDI and Sumitomo, a trading house, signed a deal to invest some US$2 billion over the next decade to expand MPT services.