Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Broken cable means slow(er) internet this month

A fault in an underwater cable linking Myanmar internet users to the outside world means connections will be slower than usual for about a month, state-run newspapers announced July 22.

Myanma Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) are launching an expedition in conjunction with a Singapore-based underwater cable repair team to repair the fault which developed in cable SEA-ME-WE 3 at about 5pm on July 22, reports said.

In the meantime, MPT has warned users that, until the repairs are finished – in about a month – surfing the internet may lead to more capsizes than usual. A number of businesses in Yangon have said they’ve already noticed the difference.

“Users are having difficulty because of this problem,” said U Thet Nin Oo from Chit Chat internet café in Lathar township. “Now, the number of customers using the internet in our café is down. Some people go back home again because the connection is so bad. Our business has decreased a little.” Online businesses are also having problems.

“We cannot update our website,” said Ma Thet Su Mon from www.Motors.com.mm. “We are so unhappy. Our work is decreasing so badly because of this problem. We hope a good internet connection will return soon.”

Ko Nay La, owner of Exact internet café in North Dagon township, also reported problems. “Now the internet connection is very slow. When customers ask me why we explain about this [the broken cable]. Customers making downloads are having difficulty. There are few internet users and online gamers are not playing in my internet café. Only LAN [local area network] game players are playing.”

Ma Ohnmar Oo, director of sales at Golden Orbit International Travels and Tours, has found the lack of reliable access has cut down her productivity and jeopardised customers’ travel plans.

“We cannot do online air bookings and cannot open email. I tried to send an important email yesterday but it is not sending yet. I also cannot read email. I cannot do my work all day.”

Even more concerning for local

entrepreneurs is the effect the shortage will have on Myanmar’s reputation abroad. Though Myanmar has cast off its status as a pariah nation, desperately needed foreign invenstment has yet to roll in owing to a lack of dependable infrastructure.

“I think [the internet shortage] makes [foreign investors] nervous,” said Mr. Jeremy Rathjen, vice president of Thura Swiss consultancy in Yangon, “[Internet] is such a key piece of infrastructure.”

He pointed out that this same problem has occurred several times in the last decade, making industries that depend on high speed internet, such as banking, wary of setting up shop in Myanmar.

Speaking over the phone to The Myanmar Times, he said Myanmar is unlikely to develope dependable internet service for some time, and catching up to ASEAN nations like Vietnam and Thailand is “a long way off.”

He added that the coming of Telenor and Ooredoo’s mobile phone networks could alleviate internet shortages “in the short term”, but stressed that proper landlines are the only real solution. “You can’t have an office full of people working on their phones.”