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4G launches in Burma

Burma’s increased demand for mobile data is facilitating competition among telcos. Source: globalizationinburma.weebly.com

Competition among telecom players in Burma is heating up as two foreign players launched 4G services to match the increasing data demand in the developing country, reports The Nation.

Telenor Myanmar launched a 4G service in Nay Pyi Taw two months after Ooredoo Myanmar launched their 4G service in the capital city along with Yangon and Madalay.

According to the Ericsson Mobility Report 2016, only 5% of mobile subscriptions in Southeast Asia were 4G, but the figure is set to increase to more than 40% by 2021.

There is now an increasing demand for faster networks in the country, with plans to introduce other 4G services with high voice definition in the future.

“To provide high speed 4G services all over the country, Telenor will need more spectrum. Telenor is looking forward to participating in the spectrum auctions planned by the Union Government later this year. Due to explosive growth of data and increasing data demand by the Myanmar people we believe it is urgently required to expand our services to 4G all over Myanmar.” Petter Furberg, the outgoing chief executive officer of Telenor Myanmar.

Telenor claims to be Myanmar’s largest network with more than 5,700 towers and 16 million customers. Over 60% of its customers are data users.

Its competitor, Ooredoo, states that its penetration rate is at 85%, with a goal to be the best data network in the country. It has extended its fibre optic network to 7,700 km with plans for more expansion by the end of this year. Ooredoo has already invested $1.7 billion to develop 4G in Myanmar.

The company promises to keep 4G price the same as with 3G and customers can enjoy free calls and use Facebook at the price of $0.003 (3 kyats) per megabyte.

As more civilians become tech-savvy, it becomes necessary for broadband networks to be faster in Myanmar. This makes Burma a golden opportunity for more telecom companies, local and foreign, to emerge in the market.

A version of this appeared in The Nation on July 11. Read the full version here.

Philippines Startup Launches Wifi Bundling Service, Wins Microsoft Grant

Now you can get free wifi when you buy your chocolate bars, thanks to Wifi Interactive Network

Microsoft is trying to get people in developing countries online. As a part of this initiative, the tech giant has launched ‘Affordable Access Initiative’, reports Tech in Asia.

Microsoft is partnering with local entrepreneurs and giving grants across the globe to startups that are working to provide affordable access in their  local markets. A Philippines based startup, Wifi Interactive Network (WIN) has won this grant through setting up a ‘wifi bundling’ startup. WIN gets brands to give wifi to the consumers by giving a wifi code that allows the consumer to connect to the local hotspot upon purchase.

WIN gets local brands in Philippines to carry the cost of installing and maintaining wifi hotspots at stores. This extends to small neighborhood convenience stores to bars. On the consumer’s side, it is also very straightforward, they simply need to register for access via smartphone and have the store approve the request, then they will receive a passcode for wifi access.

 Wifi Interactive Network (WIN) has won this grant with its ‘wifi bundling’ startup, which packages free wifi hotspots with typically bought consumer goods. 

WIN allows consumers to buy internet access in sachets. Sachets are a common way to buy consumer products, such as shampoo or milk in emerging markets, as they are cheaper than bottles. If a consumer buys a sachet of a sponsoring brand’s milk, they will get wifi access for usually 30 minutes.

This is a sustainable business model because the brands generate immediate revenue and acquire data analytics of purchase behavior at the store level. Philip Zulueta, WIN Founder

It monetizes by charging brands a monthly subscription fee per location, and now has 41 wifi hotspots. 34 in the capital with the rest in provinces in Luzon island.

The startup is planning to use the $150,000 funding from Microsoft to install base stations that will broadcast wifi signal to areas without any internet coverage.

By penetrating the low income markets, startups such as WIN are helping to boost the tech infrastructure of Philippines, as more people want access to data. Everyone has the potential to become a consumer, Philippines’ sachet market operates on smaller bite sizes with high purchase frequency, which is consistent with our sponsors’ target audience.

As WIN tackles the problem of consumers who can’t afford data plans that matches their income, its business model could go onto provide access to a whole new market segment.

A version of this appeared in Tech in Asia on July 4. Read the full article here.