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Big 4G push to drive Myanmar's smartphone use

High-speed connection is now available in Naypyitaw, Yangon and Mandalay

Signs of top mobile operators are seen side by side in a suburb of Yangon.

YANGON -- Smartphone use in Myanmar is getting a major boost as the country's largest mobile carrier has bumped up the wireless data transmission speed in major cities, paving the way for more fluid video viewing.

The government-affiliated Myanma Posts and Telecommunications on Tuesday began full service of 4G mobile data transmission in Myanmar's three largest cities: Naypyitaw, Yangon and Mandalay.

The fourth-generation connection raises the data transmission speed by 10 times that of the previous 3G service to about 15 megabytes per second, which is slower than connections available in advanced economies but enough to enable receiving video content without much stress.

The full-blown 4G service by MPT came after the government allocated frequency spectrums in the 1800 megahertz band, optimized for high-speed connection, to four mobile phone carriers, which also include Qatar-based Ooredoo, Norway's Telenor and Myanmar National Tele and Communications, a joint venture led by the Vietnamese mobile carrier Viettel Group.

Ooredoo introduced 4G in May last year, the first carrier to do so in Myanmar. Telenor soon followed suit. But these rollouts have failed to realize the full potential of 4G as they have been limited to the 2100MHz band better suited to 3G.

Myanmar National Tele and Communications, also known as Mytel, is slated to start service in early 2018.

MPT, too, has operated 4G since last October, but in limited locations such as large commercial facilities and its outlets. With the new service's launch Tuesday, however, its 4G connection became available in the entire central area of Yangon.

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