GNLM interviews Telenor Myanmar CEO Mr. Lars Erik Tellmann

Mr. Tellmann responded to written GNLM questions via email

Telenor CEO resized copy
Telenor Myanmar CEO Mr. Lars Erik Tellmann.

Q: Why did you want to invest into Myanmar’s telecommunication sector?
A: Myanmar’s telecommunications sector was one of the world’s last frontier markets with so much potential and Telenor decided to invest when the market was opened up. Our mission in Myanmar is to deliver innovative and affordable mobile services to all the people of Myanmar, at the same time as we are building sustainable and responsible practices.
Q: May I know the market share? How many Telenor users have you attained?
A: It has been an amazing growth story, and Telenor today serves close to 19 million customers nationwide. Our journey started in September 2014 with just 68 towers and mere 1,000 points-of-sale. The first day when we introduced our services in Yangon we received more than half million subscribers in one single day. Today, Telenor serves our customers across Myanmar with quality voice and data services, at the most affordable rates in the country and we experience that data consumption in Myanmar is equal to any big city in the world. Our focus is now to roll out 4G services to provide our customers with high-speed data that provides a good customer experience when watching online videos or listening to music.
Q: May I know the biggest challenges you’ve been faced? How did you tackle with that problems?
A: One particular area is the lack of access to infrastructure sharing. Infrastructure sharing is a key driver of growth and efficiency in many mature telecoms markets, and we keep engaging with authority concerned for fair access to key infrastructure, namely towers and fiber owned by the incumbent operator. Success in deploying a healthy infrastructure sharing environment will significantly reduce operational obstacles, increase potential savings, accelerate rollout of services to rural areas, and promote healthy competition.
Q: How do you feel government competition like Mectel and MPT?/ How is Telenor trying to compete market against MPT and Ooredoo?/Another operator is also preparing to come to Myanmar. Does Telenor have preparation for market competition?
A: We have always assumed the emergence of a fourth operator in our business plans. Competition is always healthy – Telenor welcomes all competition with the spirit that it makes us and our products better.
Q: I heard that Telenor target to cover about 90 per cent of Myanmar’s telecommunication within 5 years? How is Telenor striving to reach target? How will you build the customer loyalty?
A: Today, our company operates the Myanmar’s largest and fastest growing mobile data network with more than 7,600 sites and more than 100,000 points-of-sale. We have network footprint covering more than 90% of population in Myanmar. We have so far built more towers than our competitors providing Telenor with the largest mobile network in the country.
In addition to providing good coverage, we strive to earn our customers love by delivering a good experience. This means that we will be a driving force in Myanmar market by delivering innovative and affordable services to all people in Myanmar. When we entered, Telenor was the first to lead low, mass-market pricing in Myanmar and over time we have introduced several attractive products promotions and offerings, like our latest on-net promotion Kwet Ti. We will continue to introduce new voice and data services that appeal to all our customers in Myanmar.
Q: How about the international gateway or connections to Internet? Is this enough?
A: We anticipate that data demand will get higher and in light of this we will continue our investment as needed.
Q: Could you please explain about the educational cooperation with Technical University (Thanlyin)and National Management Degree College ?
A: We believe young people are the future leaders of the country and in support of empowering youths and young people in Myanmar we have introduced a series of programs. Our internship program, launched in 2016, aims to strengthen young people’s career development and employability. The Technology Trainee Program, introduced in 2017, focuses to help prepare local young talents to be industry-ready for highly competitive workplaces.
Part of our efforts to youth empowerment we will also provide a series of career talks and arrange industry visits for college and university students. We have already made collaboration agreement with Thanlyin Technological University and National Management Degree College, and expect to provide similar supports to students from more universities in the future.
Q: How do you response the customer’s feedback? I heard that some users complained about phone bill? Is there any plan to offer better packages and plans?
A: We value customers’ feedback and all of our services are always made better when we listen to what customers have to say. We have made a wide range of digital channels available for our customers to conveniently acquire our services, provide feedbacks or get help at no cost. For instance, before we launched our 4G/LTE services we piloted in Yangon to collect our customers’ feedback. Based on their feedback we optimized our services and as a result our customers are now enjoying the best customer experience.
I as CEO also receive frequent direct calls and queries from customers. What I do is I try to help out solving the issues as timely as I can, as the goal in Telenor is to never leave a customer without solving his problem. Most of the time it’s about explaining the products offerings.
With the new data services we see a need to provide customers with information about how to control their data costs. In the new time of 4G, as network quality becomes excellent customers will consume more data at a higher speed. It is therefore important to understand easy steps that gives customers better overview. The best way to manage is to buy data packages as it provides more value and give full control of your spending. In addition it is important to restrict applications that are running in the background of the smartphone from draining data without our customers’ awareness.
Q: How much Telenor investment has reached so far? Let me also know about the future investment plan?
A: We have to date invested over USD 1.8 billion, and been part of creating over 110.000 new jobs for Myanmar. We will continue to spend to further improve coverage and quality in the coming years as the rising demand for data in the Myanmar population needs to be supported by a national and modern network. I have not seen any market mature as fast as in Myanmar. In less than 1000 days we have moved from 2G to 3G and recently to 4G. Telenor Myanmar now operates the country’s largest 4G network which we believe will further accelerate the adoption of multimedia-rich digital services for communications, commerce, education, and entertainment.
Q: What are Telenor’s initiatives to support community in Myanmar?
A: Corporate Responsibility is at the core of our philosophy to develop business in a sustainable and transparent manner. We believe that mobile phones can transform human life by making information, as well as social, health and financial services much more accessible to everyone. Telenor’s Corporate Responsibility initiatives includes Telenor’s Light Houses for promoting digital literacy; Myanmar Mobile Education Project providing non-formal education to underprivileged children, humanitarian relief support for disaster-affected communities including response to the flooding in Myanmar, and Health for maternal and child health information app.


By May Thet Hnin


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