In the last few years, Myanmar has quickly embraced digital technology. As more services become available on mobile devices, an increasing number of people will buy phones or consume data. In a similar way, it seems that data plans are constantly changing and becoming more complicated to figure out.
There are now five mobile operators in Myanmar to choose from: Telenor1, MPT2, Ooredoo3, MyTel4, and Ananda5. Each of them have unique data plans, and they may or may not include bonus data, bonus minutes, reward programs, and a Friday top-up bonus. If that wasn't confusing enough, they add in night and social packages that feature apps like Facebook and Viber.
In order to make an informed decision on which service may be best for you, we are going to cut through all the mess for you. This means that all the unrelated extras like bonus minutes — since many people place calls using apps like Viber, which use data, not minutes — night packs, and rewards programs are being tossed out the window. Therefore, we will only look at the largest monthly data packs being offered. This is where you find the cheapest prices. Additionally, because fiber-to-the-home option is expensive or not available in many areas even in Yangon, we will focus our attention on just the options available from the five mobile networkoperators.
We used a simple formula6 which will show us the kayts per gigabyte value of each of the largest data packs on the market, and compiled the data into this easy to read graph – the kayts per megabyte are shown in the footnote section below. Doing this we can easily compare the cost of the five different telecom’s data packs on equal footing.
What can we conclude about the data shown in the graph? The first thing that stands out is that Ananda is the clear winner in terms the cost of kayt per megabyte of data. The plans that are being offered by Ananda and MyTel are not even in the same ballpark as the rest, they simply blow away the competition! Ananda is a whopping 60 percent cheaper than Telenor, and 59 & 52 percent cheaper than MPT and Ooredoo respectively.
Now, its true that the social and night packs offered by MPT will cut cost ratios down significantly, it’s still not as cheap as MyTel and Ananda’s low offerings. With a night or social pack you’re forced to use the limited 3.4GB maximum data allowance either during the middle of the night, or on select applications. On the other hand, Ananda’s plan allows you to spend your digital “bits and pieces” wherever and whenever you want.
There are other factors that should be considered beyond the cost, such as coverage, customer service, and whether or not you can use the extras that are bundled with data packs. Most important will be the coverage area. You will want to check for the strongest 4G (LTE) or 3G signal possible, in the area where you will be spending most of your time, before switching or buying a new device. Fortunately, its easy to check coverages online, such as Ooredoo’s 4G coverage map.
Ananda and MyTel may be new to Myanmar, but they have changed the game. I didn't expect to have to say this when researching this article, but surprisingly, MPT, Telenor, and Ooredoo have some catching up to do.