Telenor CEO says data growth boosting Asia margins

OSLO, May 4 (Reuters) -

** Earnings margins in Telenor’s extensive Asian operations are lifted by the ongoing growth in mobile broadband usage in the region, Chief Executive Sigve Brekke said during the company’s first-quarter earnings presentation on Thursday

** “The data growth is giving us a better margin than voice, and that is the main reason why we are able to grow the EBITDA.”

** “The smartphone penetration in these markets is still low, especially in Bangladesh and Pakistan, so we foresee a continuous growth in the data segment in these markets.”

** “The data increase is driven by more and cheaper smartphones in the market. You can now get a decent smartphone at around 30 dollars in these markets, which is a 20 percent reduction in the smart phone prices year over year.”

** “The emerging Asian market was the growth star in the quarter.”

** “We have added 10 million data users during the last year.”

** “We are continuing to roll out 3G in Bangladesh, 4G in Pakistan and also starting to roll out 4G in Myanmar.”

** “We have now moved up the population coverage on our network in Myanmar from 62 percent to 90 percent coverage by the end of the first quarter.” (Reporting by Joachim Dagenborg, editing by Terje Solsvik)