Myanmar Allows Mobile Phones to Be Used in Capital City

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Myanmar's government is reported to have permitted mobile phones to be used in its secretive capital city Naypyidaw. Phones which are already highly restricted were banned in the new capital city for security reasons.

On 6 November 2005, the administrative capital of Burma was officially moved to a greenfield site 2 miles west of Pyinmana, and approximately 200 miles north of Yangon. Much of the city is still under construction, which is set to be completed by around 2012.

Private telephone lines to employees living in government apartments are not allowed, so public telephones must be used. Naypyidaw is the only place in Burma where electricity is available 24 hours a day.

"Mobile phones have been allowed since October 9 around Naypyidaw. We have better communication now," a hotel staff member in Naypyidaw told AFP on condition of anonymity. "It's the first time the authorities have allowed a mobile service in Naypyidaw," she said, adding that many hotels had already applied for permission to use the network.

Where mobile phone coverage is available in other city, phones are usually only offered to military officers or business people with close ties to the military rulers.

The country has both GSM and CDMA networks. A WCDMA network was launched last year, with very limited availability.

The Mobile World analysts estimates that the country had nearly 540,000 subscribers, representing a population penetration level of just 1.2%.

The 3G phones were selling for 2.8 million Kyat (US$ 2150), while a GSM costs about 2.3 million Kyat (US$ 1800). A CDMA costs about 2.1 million Kyat (US$ 1615). The prices put the phones out of reach of ordinary citizens and limits them to the government or favoured business contacts.

Government and military contacts tend to find it easier to get the paperwork to own a mobile phone - but often then rent out those phones to business users.

On the web: AFP - Mobile World

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Tags: security  coverage  hotel  military  Myanmar 

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