Ookala’s speed test identified Ericsson’s networks as the fastest in the months of June and July in Myanmar, where less than 10 percent of the population had access to mobile services in 2014 when Telenor Myanmar and Ericsson entered a partnership compared to 105 percent SIM penetration and 80 percent smartphone penetration in 2018. Myanmar Business Today interviewed Mr. Eric H Timmer, Country Manager of Ericsson Myanmar, to talk about network performance and the prospect of rolling out the 5G network in Myanmar.
Could you share your thoughts on the network performance, data consumption trends, and data growth projection in Myanmar?
Myanmar market is one of the leading markets in South East Asia in terms of Data usage per month. We are seeing an average data consumption per user of around 12+ GB per month which is expected to grow exponentially by 2025.
We have observed considerable growth in data traffic globally and in Myanmar during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telecom networks experienced various peaks as people spent more time at home, using their phones and other connected devices. Most service providers reported about 10-20% growth in data traffic. Not just the growth but we have also observed major shifts in data and voice traffic moving from downtown to suburban and residential areas, because of lockdowns and less mobility and movement restriction in cities.
During the lockdown, the average time spent on MBB increased by one hour globally on an average basis as per the Ericsson Consumer Study done recently.
During this period of the Coronavirus, we at Ericsson together with Telenor are working hard to ensure that connectivity works well in this time of need. Mobile networks in Myanmar are proving yet again that they can deliver the performance and reliability to support the society in this hour of need.
Newly launched 5G networks around the world are growing faster than at the days 4G networks took off. On the other hand, Myanmar has yet to implement a concrete legal framework for the 5G network.
We are expecting the Government to release a new spectrum by the first half of 2021, which can be used for providing additional capacity on LTE initially. As and when viable use cases for 5G are available, operators can launch 5G services on the available spectrum.
What have Ericsson and Telenor done so far for the 5G network?
Based on the fact that Ericsson has deployed our 5G ready Ericsson Radio System in the Telenor network, I would say that the Telenor network is 5G ready already. Once the spectrum is available, we can switch on 5G through a software upgrade without needing to change the hardware
Are there any constraints for the 5G network in Myanmar such as legal or infrastructure?
We are ready to roll out 5G from the technology perspective. Once the spectrum is made available by the Government in the 2.3 GHz/ 2.6 GHz bands as is being discussed, we should be in a position to deploy 5G in Myanmar, as long as the Government has the enablers in place for operators to deploy.
According to the Ericsson Mobility Report, June 2020 edition, mobile traffic is expected to grow by 31 percent annually between 2019 and 2025. Given the current trend of data consumption during the pandemic, work-from-home, and lockdowns, what will be Ericsson’s revised project for mobile traffic growth?
Yes, we have seen a huge growth in network data during early lockdown months in April; network data growth was somewhere between 20 to 30 %. 5G spectrum, once available, can be used for FWA services not only in urban but also in suburban areas. As a partner to Telenor, we are working together to develop use cases for the early 5G deployment in Myanmar.
Ericsson has also stated recently that it has implemented a number of solutions and services to improve connectivity in Myanmar, could you elaborate more on the solutions and services and how it has improved?
Ericsson has been working closely with Telenor Myanmar to consistently improve their network performance and deliver superior performance to subscribers in terms of internet speed and latency.
The network features are reviewed to ensure that the planned capacity is fully activated to deliver seamless network experience. Network re-planning and end to end re-dimensioning activities focusing on network design, capacity, performance, and traffic handling are being carried out by Ericsson engineers to ensure that the customer experience from the network is not compromised. Machine Learning-enabled capacity planning enables the operator to proactively identify and act on network bottleneck issues. Application-based (e.g., web, chat, video) traffic handling is managed through service-aware configuration.
We have deployed our Ericsson Operations Engine (EOE) solution in the Telenor network that guarantees successful network and IT operations as data and AI allows it to move from reactive to proactive – making sense of billions of data points and acting before network issues become user issues. EOE encompasses the complete managed services offering from the network and IT operations to design and optimization. By shifting from reactive to data-driven predictive operations, Ericsson Operations Engine addresses key targets such as enhanced user experience, agile service creation, and optimized costs.
What are the plans for the 5G rollout in Myanmar?
Ericsson recently achieved a significant 5G milestone by securing the company’s 100th commercial 5G agreement or contract with unique communications service providers. We also have the experience of deploying 5G in 56 live 5G networks, spanning five continents. So from a technology perspective, we are ready. The rollout of 5G in Myanmar would also depend on the ecosystem readiness post the availability of the spectrum.