Been In Asia blog

Telecom in Myanmar

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Date: February 12th 2015
Traveller: Carla Rijnders
Myanmar is one of the few countries in the world where cell phones remain rare. Not so strange, considering that five years ago, buying a cell phone SIM card could cost you more than US$2,000! It was a service available only to the rich and well connected. And if you would have  a phone, this didn’t necessarily mean you would have good reception. Again, not strange as there just were not a lot of people using the service.

In the last years, a lot has changed in Myanmar, starting with the government. With this, the state-owned phone carrier decided to lower the rates of SIM card prices to ‘only’ US$250. In Myanmar this is still a lot of money, knowing that the majority of the population has an average annual income of less than US$200 per capita!
And then again we haven’t talked about the cell-phone operators - which offer poor coverage and service…

Change is coming, and Myanmar is starting to become one of the biggest growing markets in the world. Since mid 2014 two foreign telecom providers have entered the market. Now offering sim cards for only US$1.50. As any country, Myanmar is in need for communication, so this change is amazing for this emerging country.
Slowly the networks around the country are getting better. However the new companies had to come up with innovative solutions to make this happen. For instance seventy per cent of the population does not have access to electric power, so a large percentage of the communication towers needed generators… This makes improving the coverage difficult, but slowly it is happening. 

All of this is a great step for Myanmar, not only for the tourist industry but mainly for it’s people. As they will be connected to the world, and it will have a big impact on how they live and grow. We’re excited to see how this will change the Myanmar landscape!

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