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IT

&

Telecommunications

Special SUPPLEMENT - September 2016

Faster
internet on
the way
Register SIM cards
and be safe

The troubles of mobile tech

2

Faster
internet on
the way
The government’s
target is to offer
good and affordable
communication from
cities to even the most
remote homes

BY Htoo Thant

T

he Ministry of Transport and Communications
has determined that providing faster mobile data
service and increasing telephone penetration
nationwide will remain its top priorities as the nation
marches into the digital era.
Deputy director general Myo Swe of the Posts and
Telecommunications Department told The Myanmar
Times, “Currently, internet access is being provided
through mobile broadband and so its frequency is limited. The service depends on the availability of frequency
which makes the internet speed vary.”
At present, internet access is available via mobile
phones as well as fixed broadband, and most users
in Myanmar gain access to it through smartphones
because there is limited availability of fixed broadband,
fibre optics and asymmetric digital subscriber lines
(ADSL).
Telecom operators here provide mobile internet
services using the 900 megahertz (MHz) and 2100 MHz
spectrum bands. However, internet users criticise the
slow connection, which is caused by running both data
and voice services on the same frequencies.
For this reason, the government is seeking to provide
speedier internet services by permitting telecom operators to use additional frequencies.
According to a government roadmap released in April,
besides the current 900 MHz and 2100 MHz bands, additional frequencies of 1800 MHz and 2600 MHz are to
be made available to private operators.
“Now we are planning to roll out the 2600 MHz frequency spectrum band to be auctioned during the new
government’s 100-day plan,” Myo Swe said.
The 2600 MHz spectrum will mainly focus on providing mobile data service. “Its advantage is providing
faster internet speed than the previous frequencies [900
MHz and 2100 MHz] and it’s targeted especially for data
rather than voice service,” Myo Swe said.
Under the scheme, operators will have a greater share
of higher frequency. With the present 900 MHz and 2100

Losing connectivity
in Nay Pyi Taw

There are fewer customers at internet cafes in Nay Pyi Taw. Photo: Pyae Thet Phyo

MHz bands, each telecom operator is allocated only 5
MHz or 15 MHz, but with the new 2600 MHz, each will
receive 20 MHz.
When the ministry invited operators to apply for the
2600 MHz spectrum licence in July, 22 companies responded. The companies were screened to ensure they
complied with the ministry’s rules and regulations and
having a Network Facilities Service (Individual) Licence.
Twenty operators were chosen after the process, Myo
Swe said.
Further shortlisting exercises and bidding will be carried out until mid-October, which is when the ministry
will announce the successful bidder.
The ministry’s plans for better services include having
a satellite to speed up connectivity in rural areas. While
the government would like to own a satellite, that is just
a plan for now, but there is a stopgap measure.
Myo Swe said funding and time are factors that make
it difficult to own one now. “According to our calculations, it is estimated that a satellite will cost perhaps
US$200 million or even $300 million. That’s why we
can’t launch a national satellite at the moment,” he
said.
Besides that, to own a satellite there needs to be
approval from international organisations and neighbouring countries, and the process can take at least two
years, he added.
“A satellite is essential for rural and remote areas.
Whereas fibre optic connections take a long time to be
installed, a satellite can be built within a short period
and put into use quickly, although it may not be able to
provide a wide bandwidth.”
To overcome the funding and approval hurdles, the
government has arranged a rental agreement with
satellite operator Intelsat. “It is a condo-sat agreement.
A satellite has about 25 transmitters. We can’t afford
the whole satellite, and so we are hiring five or six of its
transmitters. It’s similar to hiring five or six rooms of a
30-room condo. You own these rooms, so you can freely
administer them,” Myo Swe said.
Translation by Zar Zar Soe

BY Pyae Thet Phyo

G

one are the days of stuffy internet cafes filled with noisy
keyboards and customers queuing for seats. In the capital
Nay Pyi Taw, at least, once-flourishing internet cafes are
struggling to stay in business.
Rising overhead costs, the availability of cheap but sophisticated
smartphones making the internet easily accessible, and unreliable
connectivity are affecting internet cafes. Many operators are eking
out a living because users only visit to play online games as opposed
to the time when they needed to do so for every internet activity,
including checking their email.
Increasingly, operators have had to cater to gamers. The owner of
Yuzana Internet & Game Arcade in Shwe Kyar Pin ward, Zabuthiri
township, Nay Pyi Taw, told The Myanmar Times that even so, business
is still not profitable.
“Most kids come in only to play online games. Customers rarely
use Facebook. Lately, the internet connection has not been good
and the ADSL (Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line) is often down.
The ADSL service provider is blaming the interruptions on faulty
telephone lines,” she said.
Those who rent their premises can hardly pay the rent, and it’s not
much better for those who own their premises.
An owner who has operated an internet cafe in Nay Pyi Taw for
almost four years said she has to pay K50,000 monthly for using a
1.5 Mbps (million bits per second) ADSL plan, another K80,000 for
electricity and K120,000 a month for each member of staff. “The internet connectivity is not reliable here. Kids leave our cafe when the
connection is down. I’m not going to be running this as a long-term
business,” she said.
Owners and users blame the slow internet speed on the large
volume of usage, mainly by government offices in Nay Pyi Taw, the
hub of ministerial offices.
When Facebook became popular in Nay Pyi Taw in 2011, at least
20 internet cafes were doing business. At least half have closed shop
now.
With the coming of mobile network operators like Telenor and
Ooredoo, cheap SIM cards and handy smartphones, things got even
more difficult.
Once, Nay Pyi Taw internet cafe operators could charge customers
K300-400 per hour and easily raked in K40,000 daily. These days they
are lucky to get K12,000 a day.
Kyaw Kyaw Win, an internet cafe employee, said Nay Pyi Taw,
home to over 1 million people, corporate and government offices,
and spread over eight townships, needs stable and faster internet
connectivity.
Translation by Win Thaw Tar

3

Villagers walk past a telecommunications tower. The government has prioritised plans for faster mobile data service nationwide. Photo: Kaung Htet

4

Playing the
4G ace
Ooredoo is aggressively building
more towers, acquiring high-speed
spectrum to spread its services
BY Aung Kyaw Nyunt and
Kyi Tha Maung

O

oredoo Myanmar plans
to install 4500 communication towers by year end and
acquire higher spectrum to boost its
4G services, which could help it capture a bigger share of the market.
The company has already
invested up to US$2 billion in its
Myanmar operations and currently
boasts about 8.2 million users, closing the gap on rivals Myanma Posts
and Telecommunications (MPT) and
Telenor Myanmar.
“Our priority right now is to use
an 1800-frequency spectrum that
would enhance 4G technology and
we hope to receive permission from
the authorities by the end of this
year,” Rene Meza, CEO of Ooredoo
Myanmar, told The Myanmar Times.
Under the government’s 100-day
plan, the Ministry of Transport and
Communications announced its
intention to upgrade broadband
services by inviting tenders for the
2600-frequency spectrum, in line
with international practices. The

900 MHz and 1100 MHz frequencies
have already been allocated to communications operators.
The Qatari firm, the first operator
to roll out 4G services in the country,
will be installing even more fibre
optic lines as well. “Over 4200 towers
and 11,500 kilometres [7150 miles]
of fibre optic lines have already
been installed in the first eight
months of 2016. Our aim is to
build about 4500 communication towers and 13,000km of fiber
optic line by year end,” Mr Meza
said.
Of the 4200 towers already built,
530 cater to 4G services, he said,
adding that land acquisition to
erect new towers was not a hindrance any more. “This was a big
challenge for us when we started
operations in 2014. These hardships are now a thing of the past.
There are no more major hurdles
and difficulties to find the required
land sites.”
Taking into account the risk factors, Mr Meza said, “$2 billion is being invested up to now and we don’t
know exactly how much more we

Rene Meza is CEO of Ooredoo Myanmar, the first operator to roll out 4G services in the country. Photo: Aung Kyaw Nyunt

have to invest until the end of the
year to reach our goal. No one can
say for sure what kind of risks could
pop up before the end of the year.”
The company offers its 4G services in Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi
Taw and Bagan. “Expanding our 4G
network depends on two factors.
If there is a high percentage of 4G
handset users in an area and they
wish to switch from their 3G service,
then we would certainly be providing 4G network in that area. Ninety
percent of Myanmar mobile phone
users have smartphones, but not
every smartphone can access 4G,”
Mr Meza said.
After Ooredoo Myanmar introduced 4G service in May, sales of 4G
smartphones shot up, he added. “One
encouragement is that although there
was only 15 percent 4G smartphone

sales in the market in Myanmar before,
it jumped to 42pc after Ooredoo 4G
services were launched in May.”
The company developed a My
Ooredoo App that supports all its
services and is giving out free data
packages in cooperation with Samsung and Oppo smartphone brands.
“We did promotions in partnership
with Samsung and Oppo. Due to our
success with the 4G service, we are
now holding discussions with other
4G smartphone producers.”
Ooredoo Myanmar is also planning to utilise its expertise to introduce mobile banking services here.
“I have 10 years’ experience in
Kenya and Tanzania in mobile banking. I saw firsthand the progress of
this banking system in these two
African countries,” Mr Meza said.
“We have plans to familiarise

Myanmar mobile phone users with
a mobile banking system. We are
still in the process of applying for a
permit from authorities and right
now we can’t say for certain who’s
going to be our partner in this
endeavour.”
Ooredoo Myanmar is also giving
top priority to SIM card registration,
as required by the government, and
of the over 8 million of its users, 6
million are already registered, he
said.
It is also working toward creating
job opportunities for young people
in Myanmar. Currently, over 900
employees are involved in managing
its operations in Yangon, Mandalay and Nay Pyi Taw. The company
plans to recruit over 100 employees
this year.
Translation by Khant Lin Oo

Register SIM cards
and be safe
Mobile phone users have no choice, and it’s
better to do it now rather than later
BY Aung Kyaw Nyunt

T

he message is clear. The government
does not want any delay in the registering of mobile phone SIM cards. The
deadline is March 31, 2017.
On August 2, the Posts and Telecommunications Department, under the Ministry of
Transport and Communications, urged users
to register their subscriber identity module (SIM) cards with their operators or face
temporary suspension of services if they fail
to do so.
Myanma Posts and Telecommunications
(MPT), a state-owned telecom enterprise, has
urged its subscribers to register their SIM
cards at MPT mobile shops beginning August
18.
Those using GSM/WCDMA and CDMA 450800 MHz SIM cards, under the terms set by
MPT when it was the sole telecom operator,
are affected as well.
MPT users who have not registered their SIMs
can do so by going in person to an MPT store,
taking along with them their identification card,

such as the national registration card, driver’s
licence or student card. Foreigners should
bring their passports or any identification
card issued by the government.
According to MPT, SIM card owners must
register in person and a third party can’t act
as their proxy.
Foreign telecom operators Qatar-based
Ooredoo Myanmar and Norway-based Telenor
Myanmar have also made similar arrangements for their users, emphasising the importance of the registration process.
The ministry said the registration exercise was to safeguard the users’ identity and
ensure online transactions such as mobile
banking, mobile money and online shopping
function smoothly.
If SIM cards are not registered, it will be
hard for authorities to track down perpetrators of cyber crimes or those committing
crimes through the use of mobile phones.
According to technician Tun Ko Aung,
“There are cases of mobile phone crimes, like
threats or blackmailing. It would be easy to
trace criminals if all SIM cards are registered.

Users should register their SIM cards at relevant mobile phone stores. Photo: Aung Htay Hlaing

Also, people who have lost their registered
SIM cards can easily report to their respective operator who can terminate the line or
re-register the line. If someone loses their
SIM card and fails to report it, they would
be blamed if a crime were to be committed using the stolen card because the SIM
was registered under the original user’s
identification.”
With mobile banking and mobile money
services are certain to grow, registration
will mean that a customer’s identity can be
quickly established. “In future only genuine
users of SIM cards can have access to these
facilities,” Tun Ko Aung said.

A mobile phone subscriber, Lin Min Oo,
advised others to start registering at relevant
mobile phone stores and not wait until the
last minute. “If you wait until the deadline,
there’s bound to be long queues and you
would be wasting more time,” he said.
Although there was an official directive to
telecom operators, when they received their
licences in February 2014, to register all SIM
cards sold to customers, only a few mobile
phone stores followed the regulation.
Currently, MPT has more than 20 million
users, Telenor 17 million and Ooredoo
8 million.
Translation by San Layy and Win Thaw Tar

5

SIM card safety
a priority

Rene Meza
CEO, Ooredoo Myanmar
In my opinion, there are two parties
involved. First, we have operators
who have the responsibility of
informing customers of the importance of registering SIM cards and
the sales representatives should
help users in the process. The next
player would be the users themselves who must take responsibility
to follow the standard rule. The
prescribed rule is simple to follow:
all SIM card users must register. Out
of over 8 million Ooredoo SIM card
users, 75 percent have completed
their registration, meaning over 6
million people have registered.

Takashi Nagashima
CEO, Myanma Posts and Telecommunications
It’s compulsory in many countries
to register mobile phone SIM cards.
In Thailand, it was announced that
all SIM cards should be registered by
July 2015. So, this is not something
that is happening only in Myanmar.
The main purpose of having SIM
cards registered is for public security. The next objective would be to
use its credibility in services such as
the mobile banking system, paying
bills through mobile phones and online shopping. It could also be used
as identification in e-government
and mobile financial transactions.

BY Aung Kyaw Nyunt

W

hen mobile phones were first introduced in Myanmar, telecom
operators made it compulsory that all SIM cards were registered,
in line with the government’s order. Unfortunately, that practice
lapsed and people could easily buy SIM cards like any other item without
providing identification. Now, authorities are enforcing the rule for security
reasons and have cautioned that SIM cards will be blocked if not registered.
Are users fuming over the ruling? And, what are industry leaders saying?

Kyi Thar Nyein Chan
Registered SIM card user

Htoo Aung
User of all three services

Hnin Thazin Wai
Advocator for registration

The main reason for registering SIM
cards is users’ own security. It is
very important to protect our SIM
cards from being misused. I have
used a mobile phone since the time
the government allotted SIM cards
at an unbelievable price of K1.5
million. In those days, we had to
sign a contract and it was the most
important document at that time.
Although we can now buy SIM cards
at any mobile sales shop or roadside
vendor as cheap as K1500, users
must register their SIM cards. For
safety’s sake, it would be advisable
to register under your own name.

“I use SIM cards of all three operators and have also registered all of
them. I think we should register our
SIM cards to prevent any untoward
incident from happening. SIM card
registration is done in other countries too. What is more important
than registration is to effectively
explain to customers the need to
register the cards on the spot where
they buy them. Moreover, the
process should be simple and not
take too long. In my opinion, users
should also be informed of the adverse effects of not registering their
SIM cards.

In the past, when only MPT sold SIM
cards, we had to sign a formal agreement. It was the same when Ooredoo
and Telenor launched their services.
Why didn’t they follow the strict rule
that was implemented earlier? If they
did, we would not face all these problems now. I think we have to blame
the operators for not following the
regulations. It is important to register
SIM cards because you won’t face harassment or prank calls at least. Even
if you do, you can easily take action
against those who do it.
Translation by Khine Thazin Han
and Win Thaw Tar

6

MPT’s US$2b expansion drive
How Myanmar’s leading player intends to stay ahead of the pack

Takashi Nagashima is CEO of Myanma Posts and Telecommunications, the largest telecom operator in the country. Photo: Aung Kyaw Nyunt

BY Aung Kyaw Nyunt

S

tate-owned Myanma Posts and Telecommunications
(MPT) Enterprise plans to invest US$2 billion over the
next 10 years to further extend its network nationwide
and provide high-quality services, said CEO Takashi
Nagashima.
“MPT has the technologies and investment from its Japanese
partner, KDDI Summit Global Myanmar [KSGM], to provide
Myanmar people with better communication and services,” he
said.
KDDI Corporation and Sumitomo Corporation jointly set
up KSGM in 2014 to operate its business in Myanmar. KDDI
Corporation is a Japanese telecommunication operator and
was formed after the merger of DDI (Daini-Denden Inc), KDD
(Kokusai Denshin Denwa) and IDO corporations, while Sumitomo is one of the biggest general trading companies in Japan.
Besides continuing to provide services for mobile and landline
phones, MPT will also be offering services for Fixed-Mobile Convergence (FMC), which provides seamless connectivity between
fixed and wireless telecommunications networks.
“Our FMC service removes discrepancies between fixed
and mobile networks, providing businesses and industries

additional convenience and better services than other telecommunications networks. Services for individuals would be
improved as well,” Mr Nagashima said.
Currently, MPT is strategically extending its mobile network
which now covers 96 percent of Myanmar’s population. “We’ve
already established a large number of communication towers
and are also expanding the network every day. MPT uses 900
MHz frequency, so we can use fewer towers but have more
widespread coverage.”
At present, MPT’s 3G network uses 2100 MHz and 900 MHz
frequencies. “The advantage of using 900 MHz is it gives a
better-quality network service. This means, compared to other
networks, in an area having the same size, we can give the
same amount of services with fewer mobile stations.”
MPT is also looking forward to seeing further improvements this December when there will be an improvement in
bandwidth usage by linking with the Southeast Asia-Middle
East-Western Europe 5 (SEA-ME-WE5) optical fibre submarine
communications cable system, Mr Nagashima said.
Progress will also be made due to the offering of more
spectrum frequency licences by the government. “The Ministry
of Transport and Communications and its Department of Posts
and Telecommunications have a spectrum frequency roadmap

and schedules. As licences are given to access spectrum
frequencies, the telecoms sector will improve even more in
future and consequently Myanmar users will also get
additional benefits,” he added.
MPT is also in the final stages of testing its 4G service, which
will be made available soon. “We have completed the necessary experiments,” said Mr Nagashima, adding that the aim is
to provide “the best 4G service”.
MPT has more than 20 million subscribers, making it the
top telecom operator in the country, and has over 1000 private
dealers to serve its strong customer base.
Also in the pipeline, Mr Nagashima said, is a campaign to
promote its mobile money services and educate users on how
to use the system. “Currently, this mobile money system is not
used widely in Myanmar. This service is just in its initial stage,”
he said, adding that the company sees much potential in
providing banking and financial services as only between eight
to 10 percent of the Myanmar population have bank accounts.
MPT has more than 8000 employees involved in providing its
services across Myanmar and, as part of its expansion plans,
welcomes qualified persons to apply for openings in the
company, Mr Nagashima said.
Translation by Win Thaw Tar

Myanma Posts and Telecommunications paraphernalia includes a broadband satellite dish (left) and an array of SIM cards. Photos: Staff, Aung Htay Hlaing

8

The troubles of mobile tech
Three Myanmar IT experts say much has to change before the country can really
take advantage of the many opportunities in the industry and beyond

Htoo Myint Naung, Technomation CEO

BY Kyi Tha Maung

W

ith private telecom operators permitted to promote their technology in Myanmar, those benefitting from their services include not only the public
but also experts in the IT world. We talked with some IT experts to get their views on the mobile industry and its impact
on IT in Myanmar.
Soe Thiha Naung is a chief trainer at Myanmar Links, Myint
Kyaw Thu is chief technical officer at MyPlay and Htoo Myint
Naung is the CEO of Technomation. Here is what they have to
say:
How has Myanmar progressed after foreign telecom operators were allowed into the country?
Soe Thiha Naung: We welcome competition among telecom
operators in the communications sector as they provide the
most basic infrastructure in a country. I am putting more hope
in the present government than in the previous one. They need
to provide speedier and cheaper internet service. I was hoping
for some improvement in the technology sector, but there
wasn’t anything mentioned about that in the 100-day plan.
The situation is not as we had hoped for and we do not even
have an exclusive ministry for technology, which we should
have had.
Myint Kyaw Thu: Myanmar’s IT industry witnessed a paradigm shift after foreign operators were allowed in. In the past,
computers or the internet were used only by those familiar
with IT. Now they have become indispensable to everyone. As
the internet can be accessed at a rather inexpensive price, the
knowledge gap between people of different social strata has
narrowed.
Htoo Myint Naung: A tremendous improvement can be seen
in the cost of using the internet. In the past, the public relied
on internet cafes, but now everyone can access the 3G or 4G
services on their mobile phones.

Myint Kyaw Thu, MyPlay chief technical officer

How does the progress of mobile technology impact IT businesses?
Soe Thiha Naung: It’s true that mobile technology progresses
once we have a low-cost communications sector. As mobile
communications spreads, there would be more tech-based
industries. But both sectors and their ingenuity have to be improved. We see some improvements in the services part. As for
the creativity part, the government itself has to give protection
and guidelines, which are not forthcoming yet. It’s necessary
to design an environment where young mobile app creators
would be given support, copyright protection and encouragement on mobile payment.
Myint Kyaw Thu: The mobile technology impact on IT businesses can be compared to the kind of effect personal computers had when they evolved from mainframe computers. Only
corporations or organisations could use mainframes, whereas
personal computers (PCs) became popular among average
users. Even then, not everyone could use the PC yet. But with
mobile tech, everybody can now use the computer and the
internet.
Htoo Myint Naung: There is a lot of positive impact, not only
on IT but also on other related industries.

Which operator is your favourite?
Soe Thiha Naung: I like all of them for their different aspects.
In some areas, MPT is better, and in others, it would be Telenor
or Ooredoo. So, I’m using all of them alternatively.
Myint Kyaw Thu: I like Telenor the best because the company
has much experience and gives us better service than the others.
Htoo Myint Naung: I do not have a favourite. I like the
scenario where they are competing with each other every day.
This creates healthy competition.

What are your views on the present mobile banking and
mobile monetary system?
Soe Thiha Naung: We haven’t seen a reliable mobile monetary
system yet. They are still at an experimental stage, with one
model after another coming up. We don’t exactly know how
much security and guarantees they can provide. As for the mobile banking system, we can say there has been some degree of
success.
Myint Kyaw Thu: The mobile monetary system still needs to be
improved. There are many players but few users in the market.
This is because players cannot fulfill the actual demand of the
market. A mobile banking system is very important to improve
the industry.
Htoo Myint Naung: Some banking functions can be done
through mobile phones, and they might not necessarily be for
mobile banking or mobile monetary system. I want an accounting software to be connected with a bank through an application program interface (API), and automatically make payments
operation-wise, like in other countries. Then we can say we have
mobile banking. I wish to pay money for any online shopping or
restaurant by opening an account called mobile money. Right
now, people are just satisfied with mobile money transferred to
them.

What additional services would you like them to provide?
Soe Thiha Naung: I would like to have faster and inexpensive
internet service.
Myint Kyaw Thu: I want a cheap internet service. At present,
we are comfortable connecting with only 3G service. I wish
mobile, landline and Wi-Fi services would become cheaper and
user-friendly.
Htoo Myint Naung: Even though personal mobile internet
service is improving, the situation of landline phones is not.
ADSL [Asymmetric Digital Subscriber Line] or Fiber to the X
(FTTX) broadband network is still expensive, almost always out
of order and the service ineffective.

Do you encounter any difficulty in purchasing apps?
How do you manage it?
Soe Thiha Naung: It’s not very hard trying to purchase foreign
apps. We just do it by topping up our redeem cards. It’s another
story purchasing applications created locally. The original cost
of a local app may not be expensive, but it becomes really costly
once it has been linked with telecom operators to whom a large
amount of money has to be paid.
Myint Kyaw Thu: There are still many difficulties to overcome.
Even though there are many mobile monetary systems, there still
isn’t anything that can be practically used here. Our company
still relies on lead scratching cards. Even though we have linked

Soe Thiha Naung, Myanmar Links chief trainer. Photos: Supplied

with a mobile paying system, in reality there are only few users.
Htoo Myint Naung: If mobile money were used only for
transferring money, there would still be difficulties related
with other applications. We are still waiting for the time when
mobile money would really become successful.
How would you solve the Myanmar font problem prevailing
among current mobile users?
Soe Thiha Naung: From the app developers’ view, only Zawgyi
font should be supported, because at present, there are still
those who are using Android version 4.2.x for the Myanmar
font system on their mobiles. There is a system now where users can type in any font of their choice that would be automatically recognised and changed into the Unicode system. Zawgyi
still has to provide assistance for applications that are more
common in the mobile market. Only developers can solve the
Myanmar font issue.
What is your view on current communications technology?
Soe Thiha Naung: Except for the fact that we have foreign
telecom operators coming in, there is no other obvious change
in the communications technology sector. There are enormous
opportunities for senior positions but little is being done in
capacity building for junior-level staff. People want strong and
effective, rather than lousy, services in the market.
Myint Kyaw Thu: The government needs to introduce muchneeded rules and regulations for the telecoms sector. Multiple
laws are needed to protect the benefits of customers and
companies running mobile businesses. If not, there would be a
lot of negative consequences in the long run.
Htoo Myint Naung: Instead of making innovations in technology or products that would be relevant here, they are just
trying to copy products or ideas that have been successful in
other countries.
How should the development and marketing of the software industry be implemented? How far has it progressed?
Soe Thiha Naung: The steps that we need to take are very
simple. They’ve been taken and implemented smoothly for a
long time in other countries. First, enact a policy; second, get
technology assistance and third, change people’s mindset.
So far, we haven’t seen any policy enacted, no technological
assistance seriously taken, and there’s no change in people’s
mindset. Whenever we mention e-government, it is just useless talk with no substance.
Myint Kyaw Thu: As mentioned, laws, starting from intellectual property (IP), that protect consumers and companies are
needed to improve the software industry. An industry that
is not fairly protected by law cannot survive. In the past,
we didn’t have any telecom operators. It’s an improvement now. Infrastructure, such as payment system, is
needed; so are IP or Anti-Trust laws. Only then could there
be improvement.
Htoo Myint Naung: I think it is very important to officially
enact a Piracy and Intellectual Property Law. I am not satisfied
with the progress. Just comparing the amount of software that
we are buying or pirating from others and the number of our
own production will show how much we are behind.
Translation by Emoon and San Layy

9

Telenor on a
building spree

Myanmar Info-Tech in Hlaing township is home to many internet service providers. Photo: Staff

Myanmar wired:
some internet options
Lars Erik Tellmann is CEO of Telenor Myanmar. Photo: Supplied

BY Aung Kyaw Nyunt

T

elenor Myanmar wants to ensure affordable mobile communication services reach all levels of Myanmar society, rather than
merely targeting high-income earners.
The Norwegian-linked company was the first telecom operator to
offer a free service for Facebook, the most popular social network here,
and continuously offered rates and services that were affordable and
accessible to all users.
Telenor is adopting the same sales and distribution model that was
implemented in several other Asian countries.
“Telenor is committed to providing the best distribution in the
market and we have constructed our distribution network based on
successful experiences we acquired in other Asian markets,” its CEO
Lars Erik Tellmann said.
Currently, Telenor has more than 170 distributors and nearly 80,000
retail outlets across the country.
Its staff regularly visits these outlets to provide support from headquarters. Furthermore, through high-quality carrier service, Telenor
supplements necessary service equipment to those places.
Of late, foreign-linked telecom operators here have been contending with each other to cover Myanmar with 4G networks, and Telenor
Myanmar launched its fourth-generation service in Nay Pyi Taw on July 7.
It intends to deliver 4G as widely as possible and tests are in progress in
some townships.
“We introduced our 4G services in Nay Pyi Taw and already tested
these services in Yangon, Mandalay, Muse and Myawady. We will
continue to offer our 4G services to cities across Myanmar soon,” Mr.
Tellmann said.
Telenor is focusing on providing better internet services to densely
populated cities where many users are located. To offer the best internet access, more high-frequency towers need to be constructed, and
they should be erected closely to each other, he explained.
Telenor Myanmar hopes to achieve its ambitious targets of having
more than 7000 towers by the end of 2016 and widening its coverage to
more than 90 percent of the population before 2018.
According to a recent press statement, Telenor Myanmar has built
5800 towers and has 17 million customers here.
Mr Tellmann also said there is also potential to develop mobile monetary services.
“While a majority of Myanmar’s population are still out of reach of
services offered by banks, mobile money will greatly assist individual
money transferring to help businesses do their payment.
“We will be offering mobile monetary services through Wave Money,
a project that we jointly established with Yoma Bank, aiming to support Myanmar’s efforts to relieve poverty while pursuing an affordable
financial sector,” he said.
Telenor has established a people-oriented company culture and has
both local and international staff from 19 countries.
“Telenor Myanmar has international employees who have expertise
in Telenor’s operations in other Asian and European countries. We have
always tried to establish a corporate culture which is built on openness,
collaboration, empowerment and inspiration,” said Mr Tellmann.
Translation by Zar Zar Soe

BY Aung Kyaw Nyunt and
Kyi Tha Maung

T

its 16 Mbps internet service in
Kyauktada township in August. Its
services include monthly limitless
internet, Speed Pack plan (limitless
data usage for seven or eight days),
Data Pack plan (K1.6 per Mb) and
K3 per Mb internet.

Myanmar Net
By using WBA-LE (Wireless Broadband Access-Licence Exempt),
Myanmar Net Company launched
its Wi-Fi internet network service
in Lanmadaw and Latha townships,
Yangon, in December 2015. The
service can be accessed at some
locations in Yankin township, Myanmar Plaza and in about 15 condos in
Yangon.
Myanmar Net is now seeking to
cover the whole of Yangon. It started

Net Core
SpectrumLife Company’s Net Core
provides fibre optics and wireless
internet services.
Its website www.spectrumlife.net
mentions services for official web
pages as well.
The company guarantees a stable
internet service using fibre optics
and wireless options.
Rates for personal and business use differ. Wireless internet
service, with free installation, can be
accessed in Yangon’s Hledan, Tarmwe,
Botahtaung, Lanmadaw, Mayangone,
Thingangyun, Thaketa and Yankin
townships, and at Mindhamma and
Kyipwaryay housing complexes.
Besides Yangon, the service can

o spur the communications
sector, the Ministry of Transport and Communications
granted Internet Service Provider
licences to local entrepreneurs and
companies who are now competing
to promote their services. These are
some of the new options available
to those looking to get hooked up to
the internet:

be accessed in 17 industrial zones
and other cities, namely Bago, Pyay,
Nay Pyi Taw, Myitkyina, Loikaw,
Hpa-an, Hakha, Monywa, Dawei
and Taunggyi.
The monthly fee for shared 1MB
speed is K60,000 and for the individual
user it is K140,000. Internet speed up to
3MB is available for private homes.
Myanmar Unilink
China-based Unilink Company has
opened its head office in Yangon
and, according to its website www.
unilink.com.mm, also provides
services in Mandalay, Magwe, Bago,
Taunggyi, Myitkyina and Nay Pyi
Taw through its branch offices.
Its wireless and fibre optics
services include high-speed broadband FTTX (Fibre to the X), MPLSVPN (multiprotocol label switching
for virtual private networks), DIA
(dedicated internet access) individual line, wireless hotspot and other
services.
Translation by Khine Thazin Han

10

Where the good old
radio reigns
Although sales are down, people are still buying radios. Photo: Staff

BY Nay Aung

U

nder a cloudy sky, beneath a neem
tree in a sesame field, Thaung Dan relaxes with a cup of green tea. A radio
dangles on a twig of the tree. “The weather is
not normal … Rainy season can come either
earlier or later. Plants can’t be cultivated at
regular intervals as in old times. Got to be
listening at all times to weather forecasts on
the radio,” Thaung Dan complained. He’s not
alone in that.
To farmers in central and upper Myanmar,
a radio is a source to be relied on for necessary weather information. They listen to daily
weather forecasts on Radio Myanmar as part
of their efforts to bring in a good harvest.
Many rural areas are yet to enjoy sufficient electricity supply and the radio remains
a reliable medium not only for weather-related news but also for entertainment. Instead

In rural areas, what is music to the ear
is a good weather forecast

of a television, a computer or the internet,
in most village homes the radio is a part of
daily life.
According to the 2014 Myanmar population and housing census statistics, 47.9
percent of the population in Magwe Region
listens to radios for information and entertainment news.
Win Naing, a resident from Minbu township, said, “During the previous military
government, radios were the only source for
news. We got all the information broadcast
by the government and Myanmar programs
from Western stations through radios. At
that time, there weren’t many television sets
or satellite dishes and we had to listen to
radios to know what was happening.”
Even these days, the radio is useful, he
said. “News is flowing faster these days, but
radios are still useful for listening to music
and news about the government,” he added.

Most middle-aged people in rural Myanmar still rely on it as they are not accustomed to mobile technology. Regular radio
listeners said they do not waste time in the
mornings. They continue with their daily
chores like taking a shower, having breakfast,
preparing for work or exercising while also
listening to their favourite radio programs.
Thaung Dan, who is 65, said, “We can’t
catch up with modern technologies. On the
other hand, a radio needs only two battery
cells. It works even when there is no electricity. While we are busy with other chores, the
radio would be there next to us just doing its
work of giving us information.”
In the cities, where computers, smartphones and other high-tech audio-video
playthings abound, the humble radio still has
a place, even though it does not play as vital a
role as in the rural areas.
It is common to see senior citizens in cities

taking morning walks with their little transistors for company, while housewives in the
kitchen are glued to their radios for the early
morning news.
“Radio sales are not as good as before. But
there are still buyers. People don’t come to
repair their damaged radios any more. Instead, they tend to buy new ones. There are
no more radio repair shops,” said a salesman
from an electronics store in Magwe.
Meanwhile, back under the neem tree,
Thaung Dan’s radio continues to bring weather forecasts: “For the next two days, most
places in northern Myanmar could have more
rain, with heavy rain in Sagaing and Magwe
regions and Rakhine State.”
Thaung Dan is happy. Farmers are being
told there will be rain in Magwe Region _ an
important piece of news that will help with
the farm work.
Translation by Kyawt Darly Lin

From idiot box to smart TV
BY Si thu Lwin

G

one are the days when the television set was called the idiot box. Now
there’s “smart TV”, sometimes called
connected TV or hybrid TV. It has multiple
functions, unlike the conventional TV, with integrated internet and interactive Web features.
Like smart or Android hand phones, some
smart TVs can be equipped with any software.
They come in two models, one with a normal
system and the other with an operating system. With the normal system, only YouTube,
Facebook and browsers that are already
included can be accessed, whereas with an operating system, regular television technology
and an Android system, like the type found in
a smartphone, are included.
The latter type, which also allows the installation of required software in an inserted memory

card, is more suitable for offices or businesses.
As smart TVs also have a wireless system,
most people link them with their Android
phones to surf the internet or watch streaming
videos. The sound system can be manipulated
as desired, so it’s most suitable for those using
Android phones to connect and use video files.
Smart TVs arrived in the local market this
year, with Sony, Samsung, TCL, Panasonic and
LG being the leading brands, giving customers
much choice.
Sizes range from 32 inches to 80 inches. For
a 32-inch TV with a normal system, the price
would be over K200,000 and a 40-inch would
sell for over K500,000.
Depending on the brand, a 32-inch smart
TV with an operating system would be priced
from over K200,000. A 65-inch could cost up to
K3.9 million.
Translation by Emoon

Spoilt for choice. A customer has a hard time choosing a smart TV from various brands
available at Myo Thein Electronics Store in Mandalay. Photo: Si Thu Lwin

Hot demand for satellite dishes
BY Phyo Wai Kyaw

O

nly a decade ago satellite pay TV was
beyond the reach of many families
in Myanmar. Only a small segment
of affluent consumers could afford the thenluxury entertainment.
How things have changed, and so quickly.
Operators like Sky Net, 4TV and 5 Network
entered the market offering a wide range of
channels from sports, news, drama series and
entertainment to movies.
According to Pho Zaw, assistant sales
manager at Myo Thein Electronics Store in
Mandalay, the two most popular ones are Sky
Net and 4TV.
“People like Sky Net mainly for football
matches, like the Premier League and the

Champions League. For entertainment, people
prefer 4TV,” he said.
On an average, he sells at least 35 4TV
units every month. He also has Sky Net retail
branches spread across the township.
The 4TV includes over 90 high-definition
(HD) channels. The monthly subscription fee
is K8900 and if the subscription is for three
consecutive months, one channel is offered
free for a month.
Customers need to buy the receiver and a
card for K45,000, in addition to an antenna or
a satellite dish.
Sky Net’s receiver, card and satellite dish
costs K55,000 and viewers can choose four
types of packages, SN-9, SN-2, SN-3 and SN3+HD (a 36-month subscription plan). The SN3+HD and SN-9 are the most popular plans,

according to Pho Zaw.
The SN-3+HD comprises over 120 clear
vision (some on HD) channels, including
international football coverage. The monthly
fee is K13,500.
The SN-9 is for those who do not just wish
to see football matches, as it offers almost 80
channels covering exclusive news, movies and
entertainment, for a monthly fee of K6300.
If customers wish to install 4TV, they can
select channels at the store itself or if they
wish to select them at home they will need
a technician to make a house call for an
additional cost of about K10,000. If customers choose to install Sky Net, the dealers will
send a technician to install the service at no
charge.
Translation by Emoon

A satellite receiver on sale. Photo: Phyo Wai Kyaw

11

Hot gadgets here
the kettle the outside would be just about 40˚C.
The kettle uses the British Strix thermostat and has a lifespan of up to 10 years. The Japanese Shibaura high-processing
temperature sensor provides accurate temperature readings.
The kettle holds up to 1.5 litres and it can boil water within
five minutes because of its 1800-watt power. The triple safety
protection prevents electrocution or accidents. The kettle sells
at K60,000 at Mi Store Yangon.

BY Myo Satt
Xiaomi’s Mi Drone
Xiaomi, one of China’s most popular consumer electronics
brands, has launched its own drone, the Mi Drone or Mi UAV
(unmanned aerial vehicle). It is a multi-featured quadcopter
with 4K camera, which comes with a remote control and uses
the Mi smartphone as its viewfinder.
One of the hottest categories in consumer tech, drones are
now used widely in taking photos and videos. Mi Drone is
cheaper than other brands and has many features similar to
DJI’s (Dà-Jiāng Innovations) Phantom series drones. It can also
be easily assembled and disassembled, and conveniently carried in a backpack, unlike other drones that have to be lugged
in separate boxes.
Its other features include automatic take-off and landing,
and return home, meaning it can automatically home in on
the remote control. It also has route and destination features.
The remote control is powered by a 5000mAh battery pack
and weighs just 452 grams, a load that’s effortlessly managed
even on long flights. The remote even has a USB (Universal Serial Bus) cable to link with a phone.
Mi Drone can fly up to 27 minutes on a single charge, thanks
to the strong battery pack. It is able to reach a height of 500
metres while being managed from 1 kilometre away.
It has a very good quality PTZ (pan-tilt-zoom) camera. The
three-axis gimbal optical image stabilisation camera takes
stable pictures during a normal wind speed.
High quality videos and photos are possible thanks to the
16 megapixel 1/2.3 inches cmos (complementary metal-oxide
semiconductor) sensor. There are two options for video resolution, 1920x1080p (60 fps/30 fps) and 1280x720p (120 fps). A
memory card up to Micro SD Class 10 64GB can be inserted.
An English-version application is available at Mi Store Yangon. Even inexperienced drone flyers can connect and use it
easily because of its simple app interface. A Xiaomi Mi Drone
set costs K570,000 at Mi Store Yangon.

3D VR Box Headset
Virtual Reality (VR) creates a simulated environment and this
particular VR headset takes you to a 3D world.
A 360-degree movie, edited with high technology, can be
watched with the headset. For instance, one can see the pilot’s
view from a jet fighter, search for sharks and shipwrecks
underwater, or follow a guide touring wonders of the world on
YouTube’s 360-degree video channel.
A person could play games by just making moves with the
head rather than working on the normal consoles. The head
moves would take one to hundreds of places, including space,
roller coasters or way down into the ocean deep. Numerous
games apps can be downloaded from Google Playstore’s VR
Games.
It would be possible to watch movies without 3D glasses
on and watch normal videos in cinemascope as in a movie
theatre.
There are fake VR headsets produced in various designs
and, depending on their quality, they can cause dizziness
and blurred vision. They also do not last long. The genuine
VR headsets use high quality ABS (acrylonitrile butadiene
styrene) plastic and contain two lenses that can be adjusted
and focused according to facial structure. For comfort, the area
touching a person’s face has high-quality sponge affixed.
The VR headset has a sliding pocket to keep the phone intact. Both Android and iOS phones can be used, as well as devices up to the size of Samsung Note 3. It is priced at K15,000
and can be purchased from MAX online shopping.

Nintendo 3DS XL
Unlike previous Nintendo game consoles, this new Nintendo
3DS (3D version of dual screens) XL has 18 games, including
Pokemon Y, Pokemon X, Assassin’s Creed and Final Fantasy. It’s a
bargain at its price, given that just purchasing a game itself
would cost K50,000. As it has a high-performing CPU (central
processing unit), it would not take long to download a game or
switch to other ones. The 3D game characters elicit a high-tech
resolution. Besides games, pictures and songs could be shared
easily through the incorporated Wi-Fi system.
Priced at K350,000, it is available at KoBeno Sony store at
Mahabandoola Park Road.

AUX Bluetooth Wireless Music Partner
The AUX (auxiliary) Bluetooth Wireless Music Partner can be
used to directly connect with a car stereo system which does
not have Bluetooth. When the jack is plugged in, songs downloaded in a phone can be listened to on the vehicle’s audio
system. A memory stick could also be used in place of a phone.
It costs K25,000 and is available at KoBeno Sony store at
Mahabandoola Park Road.
Translation by Win Thaw Tar and Khant Lin Oo

IT &

Telecommunications
Xiaomi’s Smart Kettle
This smart kettle is not like other normal kettles. It has Bluetooth 4.0 LE technology. It can be used by connecting a smartphone with Mi Home Application. The heat temperature can
be changed, using the phone anywhere, between 40˚C and 95˚C
and it can also be kept at a constant temperature from one to
12 hours as desired. Designed with two layers, it can be easily
disassembled and cleaned after usage.
The cable can be folded and neatly kept under the kettle. Because of a high-quality polypropylene plastic wrap and hollow
heat insulation layer, even if the temperature is 100˚C inside

Executive Editor Myo Lwin
Editor Clovis Santiago
Sub editor P Vijian
Staff writers Aung Kyaw Nyunt, Kyi Tha Maung, Htoo Thant, Pyae Thet Phyo,
Nay Aung, Si Thu Lwin, Phyo Wai Kyaw, Myo Satt

Photography Kaung Htet, Aung Htay Hlaing
Cover Photo Shutterstock
Art Director Tin Zaw Htway
Layout Designer Khin Zaw
For feedback and enquiries, please contact
c.santiago@mmtimes.com

12

Pokémon GO forever?
Pokémon Go has thrilled the world. Fans in Myanmar
have been quick to get into the act as well, to hunt
the digital creatures.

Pokémon Go players flock together at a stadium in Nebraska, US. Photos: Pokémon Go’s Official Twitter Account

Three of Pokémon Go’s team leaders.

BY Kyi Tha Maung

How many creatures have you caught
today?” This question has become customary among young and middle-aged
people in Yangon these days. The Pokémon Go
mania is here to stay it seems. The mobile
game, created by US based Niantic Company,
has made the already famous Pokémon brand
a global phenomenon.
Pokémon Go is a free-to-play, location-based
augmented-reality (AR) game developed for
Android and iOS devices. Previous mobile
games need only be played in a static location, whereas Pokémon Go encourages you to
venture outside and travel around to find and
capture Pokémon creatures.
The game originated from an April Fool’s
joke – Pokémon Challenge – unveiled in 2014
by Nintendo Company’s CEO, the late Satoru
Iwata, in collaboration with Pokémon Company and Google. Tsunekazu Ishihara, CEO
and president of Pokémon Company, used to
be an ardent fan of Niantic’s Ingress game. He
thought Pokémon could use the Ingress data
and presented a Pokémon Go trailer in 2015.
Ingress is a location-based, massive multiplayer online (MMO) AR game developed by
Niantic, originally part of Google. The game
was first released exclusively for Android devices in November 2012 and made available
to Apple’s iOS in July 2014.
Nintendo had had its eye on the mobile
market for a long time and launched a puzzle
game called Pokémon Shuffle for Android and
iOS in August 2015. It did not have much success though, because it was not as adventurous as the Pokémon series. Even then, it was
downloaded more than 6 million times within
a year, proving the popularity of the enduring
Nintendo characters and people’s craving to
see them on their mobiles.
Having a mystifying style and based on
the Pokémon series’ originality, Pokémon Go
was downloaded more than 10 million times
within one week of its launching, a record

for a game application. According to SurveyMonkey, Pokémon Go broke the record of Candy
Crush with more than 21 million playing simultaneously on July 12 in the United States.
The Candy Crush record was slightly over 15
million.
At the time of its launch on July 6, active
users of Pokémon Go were so high that servers
went down. The problem was caused by gamers who accessed the app in devious ways
although it was not yet available officially.
Consequently, Niantic strictly regulated the
list of countries where the game could be officially played.
This decision also had an effect on
Nintendo and Pokémon fans in Myanmar. According to July 12 Pokémon Go social network
platforms, Myanmar, China, Korea (both
North and South) and Sudan were not lined
up for release. Later, on August 6, when the
company announced that the game was
released in nine ASEAN countries, Myanmar
was still left behind. But, surprise! That day,
some youngsters discovered they could play it
here in Myanmar!
The next day, on August 7, there were more
individuals or groups of Pokémon players on
the streets of Yangon, Mandalay and Taunggyi. Myanmar players have been active in
the past in games like Clash of Clans or Candy
Crush, but when they started playing Pokémon
Go, more people noticed them as they were
gaming in the real world.
Nay Aung Latt, 5-Networks TV Gameworms
program host, recounted the history of
Pokémon in Myanmar. “Myanmar first noticed
Pokémon in early 2000. Pokémon games and
Pokémon: The First Movie was launched in
Japan, a year before they were in the US, in
November 1999. Pirated, but clear, copies
started to enter Myanmar soon after.
“Players liked playing Pokémon on Game Boy
and Game Boy Color hand-held videogame
devices, but it’s popularity mounted when
its second generation, Pokémon Gold/Silver
and Crystal, could be played on a computer

screen with an emulator. This continued until
2006. Later, the number of Pokémon players
decreased because of Nintendo’s policy that
its new Pokémon generations would be available only on handheld Nintendo 3DS/DS and
Wii consoles.”
After about 15 years, the student generation that once played Pokémon on emulated
computer screens has become young adults
and using smartphones now. Naturally,
when Pokémon Go, a combination of modern
tech and an already popular series, hit their
mobiles, it was like déjà vu _ being back in the
golden, olden times, resulting in the game’s
instant success.
However, in this IT Age nothing remains
at the peak forever. Trends and fads decline
quickly. How long will Pokémon Go’s success
last?
According to Nay Aung Latt, “It’s a free-toplay rather than pay-to-win game. Its Lure
Modules, though not free, could be shared by
others, while its potions and revives benefit
many. These properties can give the game
long-term success.”
Indeed, Pokémon Go’s triumph has given
Nintendo and Niantic the push to re-enter
the mobile market, while Niantic and its CEO,
John Hanke, have become trendy household
names among casual mobile users.
Translation by Thiri Min Htun and Emoon

Pokémon Go Plus
The Pokémon Go Plus is a small device that
allows you to enjoy Pokémon Go while you’re
on the move and not looking at your smartphone. The device connects to a smartphone
via Bluetooth low energy and notifies you
about events in the game _ such as the appearance of a Pokémon nearby _ using an
LED and vibration.
Although Pokémon Go Plus was scheduled
to be launched together with Pokémon Go,
there has been no release date yet until now.
The company has been receiving pre-orders
since July 31.
The main purpose of Pokémon Go Plus is to
reduce the time of checking your phone screen.
By wearing the device, which looks like a Google
Maps location signal, on your wrist, it will flash
up and vibrate when you are in Pokéstop range
or when Pokémon species are near you.
Players, who are also called trainers, can
catch Pokémon by just pressing the button on
their wrist-device and also take in the Pokéstop items. Though you can catch species
that you had already caught before with
Pokémon Go Plus, you will still need to use
your phone to catch new Pokémon creatures
or to check your tallies. The device costs
US$34.99, but prices could vary depending on
location – when it hits the market.

Birth of Pokémon
Nintendo is one of the largest videogame and entertainment companies based in Japan.
Nintendo’s Pokémon series became its most successful, next to its Mario game series.
An adventure version of Pokémon was first produced by Game Freak in 1995 for Game Boy,
a handheld device distributed by Nintendo. A Japanese anime version Pokémon television
series and movies also attracted similarly large audiences.
Pokémon was mainly created by Satoshi Tajiri, Game Freak’s founder, and Ken Sugimori,
character designer of the Pokémon franchise. The game was based on Tajiri’s hobby of collecting insects. Sugimori designed the first generation of 151 Pokémon characters.
In a rare feat for the Pokémon franchise, unlike others, it first released the game and then
produced the movie and cartoon series. Pokémon derives its name from Pocket Monster.
There are 722 Pokémon species in the game series to date, but Pokémon Go has only 151 from
the original generation.