February 4, 2015

the state of the internet

as i mentioned, most people have adjusted well to life without internet.  it's a little harder for the newer arrivals.  it takes about a day for newcomers to figure out that Traders [a five star hotel downtown] has exceptional service.  the lobby is always filled with foreigners who for the cost of a coke [$4.00] or pot of tea [$3.00] get hours of high speed internet.

there aren't a lot of other options.  the 'internet cafes' are dark, dingy and dirty and don't serve coffee.   the tea shops bare no resemblence to coffee shops in the west.  no internet, no a/c, no espresso machine and no Starbucks.  that's not a complaint and the rumor is that Starbucks will be here in 2016 so that's sure to change the landscape and culture considerably.

my boss likes his coffee western style so i have really good coffee at the office.  the rest of the staff drinks tea or what they call 'three in one' and that my friends is really not yummy.  it's a small packet of instant coffee with dry creamer and sugar mixed in.  

but i digress, recently i was talking with an NGO director who had dsl service installed in his apartment.  the cost $1500 to install.  that doesn't include the monthly charge.  there is no service level commitment so you may have access one day and then nothing for three days.  there is no intention to build out land line access anywhere.  Myanmar is leapfrogging over desktop technology straight to smartphones.

just a few years ago a SIM card would cost $2000US if you could even get one.  so SIM cards were passed around and resold.  i know someone who got a SIM card 18 months ago.  they 'rent' it from their company at $15US a month.  previously the SIM had been used by a magazine so about 40% of the calls she would get were from people looking for the magazine.

the cost of SIM cards and usage have come down immensly.  it may now be some of the cheapest phone time in the world.  i paid $1.50US for a SIM card in October.  i put $5.00US credit on it and with normal voice and data usage i have still not used the $5US.... that's three months.

there are three companies offering wireless voice and data service but the original MPT [Myanmar Post & Telecommunications] still has some level of control over all of them.  it's common knowledge that when there are active protests or anything that could reflect badly on the government the wireless networks of all three go down.  

i am quite thankful every day that i have the access that i do at the apartment. 

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