Myanmar is developing rapidly and in every sector the digitalisation of the nation continues. While this continues apace, at the moment, many people just don’t have access to the internet at all. Improving access to the internet will remain the main priority for the government as Myanmar marches into the future.
The government have pledged to supply affordable and reliable internet communication between cities and the most remote villages in the country.
Communication top priority
Offering fast mobile data services and increased internet and telephone penetration throughout the country is the government’s top priority following research by the Ministry of Transport and Communications. At the moment, internet availability is marred due to being provided through mobile broadband. This affects it frequency, speed and reach.
Internet is also available via fixed broadband but a lot of people don’t have access to this, and only access the internet using their smartphone. There is only a limited availability of ADSL (asymmetric digital subscriber lines), fibre optic broadband or fixed broadband.
Operators provide mobile internet services in Myanmar using the 2100 megahertz (MHz) and 900 MHz bands. Both of these have been heavily criticised by users for being too slow due to voice services and data services running on the same frequency.
Due to this, the government is looking to allow operators to use additional frequencies of 2600 MHz and 1800 MHz. The former frequency will mainly provide data services.
New government roadmap
Myo Swe, deputy director general of the Posts and Telecommunications Department said in April when the government roadmap was released: “Now we are planning to roll out the 2600 MHz spectrum band to be auctioned during the new government’s 100-day plan. Its advantage is providing faster internet speed than the previous frequencies and it’s targeted especially for data rather than voice service.”
Operators under the scheme will have more of a share of the higher frequency. At the moment, each operator is only allowed 5 MHz or 15 MHz, but will receive 20MHz under the new scheme. The government invited companies to bid for the 2600Mhz and 22 companies responded. After a process of regulation, 20 operators were chosen. Final selections are still being made before the final operator is announced.
Better services planned
Other plans by the government to improve services include using a satellite in order to speed up connectivity with rural areas. Eventually there are plans to own a satellite but for now funding and time make that impossible.
As well as the cost, it’s also a two-year process to gain approval from nearby countries for Myanmar to launch its own satellite. However, it’s imperative a satellite is used for rural areas as fibre optic cables are just too slow and unreliable. Satellites can be installed and used much more quickly. In order to overcome this, the government has finalised a satellite rental agreement with Intelsat.