Home-grown internet has received a boost that could help users get what they want from the internet faster.
Though a sizeable chunk of Myanmar’s internet content currently still has to be imported, a new crop of servers has sprung up that will keep some of it nearby – making it faster and easier to get to.
According to American internet performance firm Dyn, both Norway’s Telenor and local company Yatanarpon Teleport (YTP) have gone live with Google Global Cache (GGC), which the American search titan calls the final tier of its content delivery platform and which involves servers that make content such as YouTube videos available for quick retrieval.
Meanwhile, Japanese corporation and Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT)’s business partner KDDI Group has teamed up with its Korean subsidiary CDNetworks to establish new points of presence in Myanmar, the Seoul-based firm announced on July 22.
Content delivery networks (CDNs) provide users shortcuts to content. Doug Madory, Director of Internet Analysis at Dyn, said the company brings web content closer by hosting copies of websites on servers near users, eliminating the need to connect to far-away servers.
Without a local CDN operator, accessing sites like Google and Facebook necessitates linking up with servers hundreds of kilometres away, he said. And access doesn’t always come easy.
“To reach content outside the country, users in Myanmar must use either SEA-ME-WE 3 or limited terrestrial links that go through Thailand and China,” Mr Madory said. “When these links are down – which happens somewhat regularly – the remaining links can get congested quickly and the total available bandwidth drops.”
“Locally hosted content eliminates this factor,” he added.
The arrival of an international CDN supplier, as well as Google servers, also indicates Myanmar’s internet has hit a certain landmark.
“The appearance of major local hosting operations is a major milestone in the growth and development of the internet in Myanmar,” Mr Madory said.
As a result of Google’s global presence, Mr Madory believes GGC is “more conspicuous” where it is absent than where it is present, and Myanmar’s new servers mean it no longer keeps company with countries such as North Korea and Cuba which lack such servers.
CDNetworks’ move into Myanmar also signals progress.
“The appearance of the first international CDN provider shows that the international internet community wants to be able to provide services into this new and growing market,” Mr Madory said.
Yoshiaki Benino, director at KDDI’s subsidiary with Sumitomo Corporation, KDDI Summit Global Myanmar (KSGM), said that although he could not disclose a tally of servers, they are in more than one location.
He said that with these servers, users could access content more quickly.
“Instead of going a very, very long way to the US or wherever in the world, now they can [get] access inside the country,” he said.
Mr Madory said that the advent of GGC servers will lead to faster access to Google services, including YouTube. A recent report on Myanmar’s mobile web from Telenor’s partner Opera Software ranked Google and YouTube the second- and third-most visited sites via its browser, Opera Mini.
Network operators and internet service providers can ask Google to join the invitation-only GGC program, according to the company, which said it sends servers to firms after a few steps.
Mr Madory said the internet in Myanmar has gone from zero to two in a short time, and 2014 brought the first phase of development – the arrival and wrangling of two new international telecommunications players. Next up is an important question for Myanmar users: “How about content?” he said.
With more and more Myanmar accounts on Facebook and international sites in high demand, local hosting can help streamline internet surfing.
“In the past three years we have observed a growing number of websites hosted within Myanmar,” Mr Madory said. “This bodes well for the growth of the local internet economy as well as user experience – locally hosted websites are faster to access than those hosted in other countries.”
“The internet as a total system is getting more efficient ... [Myanmar is] having its little microcosm of that.”