Telecommunication in Myanmar

Ever traveled to Myanmar (Burma)? Ever traveled outside of major tourist destinations in Myanmar? Ever tried to call home from Myanmar? Ever got the feeling of total cut off from the rest of the world? Ever experience frustration for not being able to call home and know what is happening at home? Welcome to Myanmar.

Telecommunication in Myanmar is probably the lowest in South East Asia. Auto telephone exchange are available only in some towns. Many towns in Myanmar still don’t have auto telephone exchange and still have to rely on manual exchange. Myanmar is probably the only ocuntry on earth with manual exchange. For trunk call, there are a few telephones (about 3 to 6 phones) in these towns installed at the manual exchange and at the Public Call Outlets (PCO). Some towns in remote regions have no land lines connected to the main hub, and have to rely on satellite links. For example, Mindat from Chin State has only six telephones using satellite links. In many instances, these phone lines are not very reliable and the voice quality is also bad.

Some towns and cities have autometic axchanges. However, due to limited trunk call lines to the central communication hub, call a trunk call or overseas calls are sometimes difficult. I once had an experience of trying to call to Yangon from Kalaymyo. It took me the whole morning to get the line. It really is frustrating.

Even in cities like Yangon and Mandalay, getting a fixed land telephone line is very difficult. I should say extremely difficult. Very few new land lines are installed in Yangon and Mandalay, and usually, the old lines are already full. New applications for a telephone line are almost always unsuccessful. This created a black market activity of reselling fixed land line telephones in cities across Myanmar. A black market price of a land line will cost as much as 4,000,000 kyats (more than US$ 3,000). After that, you still have to pay some money to the staffs at the telecoms office for the installation (it is illegal to sell back your phone line). Even then, it is still very difficult as very few people want to sell the phone lines, and even if you can buy, if you are in a different area, you cannot install a line as there is no vacancy at the exchange in your area. This really is a very bad situation. This leaves the only option, mobile phones.

Mobile phones were first introduced about 15 years ago. First generation mobile phones were very heavy, old, slow, noisy and analog. It was only available to a very few high ranking government officers and foreign diplomats. A few years later, government started selling CDMA mobile phones to the general public. However, there was a long waiting list, and only available to government officers and companies. Then come the GSM. It is faster, newer with better voice quality. The official selling price was 500,000 kyats (US$ 2,000 at that time). As usual, it was available only to government officers and those with connections in the government telecoms office. The official price was kept on increasing, to 1,000,000 kyats (US$ 1,000 at that time), then to 1,500,000 kyats and finally to 2,000,000 kyats (around US$ 1,500). This created another black market for mobile phone cards. The SIM cards are resold at twice the official price.

To solve the problem of telecommunication in Myanmar, some companies now offer a service of semiautomatic telephone exchange to housing projects, apartments and condominiums in Yangon and Mandalay. They install a few land or GSM phones, and set up a small PABX exchange. This way, the houses and rooms can share the few available telephone lines at a cheaper price.

The latest introduction of prepaid GSM mobile phone cards to the general public at an affordable price might change some of these landscapes. However, these prepaid GSM phone cards have thier drawbacks too. They are sold at US$ 20 each to anyone with ID card or passport, and easily available in supermarkets and phone shops in Yangon and Mandalay. They are currently quite popular now, but with no expansion in the current GSM infrastructure, the lines are expected to be congested soon.

Myanmar now has 416,000 fixed line phones with a density of  8 phones per one thousand population.

25 comments for “Telecommunication in Myanmar

  1. ruatte
    February 7, 2009 at 10:24 am

    hello Dear Sir / Madam

    this is my first time to visit and read various articles a bout myanmar as in detail and updated news all round.
    Thanks for the effort.

    Carry on
    God bless

    Ruatte

  2. February 9, 2009 at 7:37 pm

    You know what I really hate? When I was living in Yangon way back in 96, 97, some phone calls would come in for people in another town. The people over there apparently have the exact same number. The phone lines were either shared or those people were hooked up to our number illegally.

    These days, when we call home from overseas, we still have trouble getting through sometimes. Some days we would get to Myanmar exchange and they would either play a recorded message saying the services are down or nothing at all. The worst part is when that happens, it counts as the line being answered and we get charged the normal rates for Myanmar call. That is very expensive where I’m living.

  3. Cupid
    June 22, 2009 at 11:26 am

    Dear Sir/Madam,

    I would like to know GSM Traffic for incoming call & outgoing call. Please reply to me. I really don’t know how to collect the GSM telephone bill.
    Thank for your kindness.

    Best regards,
    Cupid

    • June 22, 2009 at 11:01 pm

      Thanks for the comment. I am not so sure what information you want to know. I suppose you are asking about the GSM mobile phone bills in Myanmar. For GSM mobile phone bills, the Myanmar Telecoms will send the bill every month. The out going call for Myanmar GSM phone is 25 kyats per minute. No charge for the incoming call, as far as I know. The rate for prepaid GSM phones are more expensive and you will also be charged for the incoming calls.

  4. frederick m. asher
    September 24, 2009 at 12:27 am

    Is there any way to get a GSM sim card before arriving in Myanmar? I’ll be going as a tourist but need to be in touch with the office almost from the moment I get there.

    • September 24, 2009 at 9:49 pm

      As far as I know, there is no online seller selling Myanmar prepaid GSM cards, nor shop outside Myanmar (Burma) that sells Myanmar prepaid GSM phone cards. You will need to travel to Myanmar to buy one. You might be able to buy one at the airport although I am not sure whether any shop sells prepaid GSM cards at the airport or not.

  5. jack
    October 19, 2009 at 6:48 pm

    Bamarlay:

    my msn is Jackc312@hotmail.com. I want to ask you some more questions regarding mboile gsm cards

  6. kohtettt
    November 23, 2009 at 9:08 pm

    I want to know how much to pay for calling singapore from GSM

  7. July 26, 2010 at 11:19 am

    Dear _ i want to know how many charge per min for outgoing call from Myanmar to Singapore. Thanks and regards

  8. shanewong@live.com
    February 22, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    Saw you guys writing in 2009. I need someone to advise me if now any sim card available in Yangon that able to sms/call Singapore since now 2011? How am i able to find out per sms to singapore from Yangon is? And where i can i buy this sim card and how much?

    • February 23, 2011 at 6:35 am

      Government does not issue new prepaid SIM cards anymore. They are planning to issue new subscriber GSM SIM cards but they are refilled by prepaid cards. You cannot buy these new subscriber/prepaid cards at phone shops anymore. You need to apply at Government telecommunication department. It cost around 500 US dollar a card. SMS in Myanmar is only available inside Myanmar. No SMS service to outside world. You can call to Singapore with these cards but it is quite expensive.

  9. vigoorian
    March 1, 2011 at 6:12 am

    im just wondering if u r acknowledge of telecom regulation and licensed operators in myanmar. such as Myanmar Post and Telecom (MPT) and yatanarpone teleport (YTP). is YTP a part of MPT or is YTP a licensed infrastructure provider? any source recommended will be appriciated.

    many thanx

    • June 6, 2012 at 1:56 pm

      Hi Vigoorian,

      This is Linh from Viet Nam. I am so interested in your commend, I am pleased to talk with you. Can I get your contact info?

      My skype is linhnguyen74

      I wait for your reply.

      Linh Nguyen (ms)

  10. maw maw
    December 30, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    hello
    I want to get some advice from you. Now I reach in China for studying.
    I want to buy the mobile handset for my country but I don’t know which one is continent or not. In our country during this present 500000ks price mobile is very popular. I only know they are 450Mhz and 800Mhz. Please give me some advice for our country which type of handset is suit or not. I will hope your reply.
    Thank you.
    Maw Maw Htay
    Wuhan University of Technology
    China

  11. Myo
    December 31, 2011 at 12:34 am

    Hi Maw Maw,

    It depends on what type of SIM card(line) you are going to buy.
    Here we hv GSM, CDMA 450 & CDMA 800 systems.
    Government is planning to expend lots of GSM line with price around 300,000ks in first half of 2012.
    Also they are going to allow roaming and internet service like EDGE and 3G.(now limited qty of GSM phones can use EDGE internet)
    So, I think GSM system has more potential and you will hv more choices of handset frm Nokia, Samsung, Sonyericsson, etc…
    I won’t recommend for CDMA 450 as it is Chinese developed system and you will end up with China made low quality handsets that can barely talk(no other functions)
    As for CDMA 800, it is quite good that you can use internet on it and it has better signal reception than GSM.
    You can find reasonable quality Hwawai brand handset with good functionalities.
    But the problem is gov now stopped giving CDMA 800 lines at Yangon as it has limited supply.
    Hope you get some idea now.
    Cheers!

    Ko Myo

    • Quang Vu
      September 11, 2012 at 12:16 am

      Hi Myo,

      This is Quang from Vietnam. I am going to have a few weeks travelling to Myanmar.

      Could you please help me check which operators are the owner of CDMA 450 networks in Myanmar ? Are they having the nation wide CDMA 450 networks ? Or just several provinces CDMA 450 network like CDMA WLL ?

      Thank you and best regards,

      Quang
      vuluuquang@gmail.com
      YM: vuluuquang

  12. Bin Choon
    January 13, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hi,

    I would like to chat with you about telecoms in Myanmar.
    Could you please add me on msn: voip28@hotmail.com

    BC

  13. June 6, 2012 at 1:42 pm

    Hi Sir/ Madam,

    This is Linh Nguyen from Viet Nam. I am seller for Diesel Generator in Viet Nam. Our website http://www.omegapowersystems.com

    Now, I wish to know some information about Telcomunication here, we also want to find and contact with Sub contractor here or the company name who have demands in Generators.

    I will be highly appreciated to hear from you.
    Please contact me as bellows,

    Linh Nguyen (Ms)
    Sales Manager of Asia-Pacific Region
    *******************************
    LEVIS MANUFACTURER
    Lot LD7, Xuyen A Industrial Zone,
    Duc Hoa District, Long An Province, Vietnam
    Tel: 84.72.3751710/ 1711/ 1712 – Fax:84.72.3751713
    Cell phone: 84 986 925 779
    Website: http://www.omegapowersystems.com – Email: sales2@omegapowersystems.com
    Skpye: linhnguyen74

  14. Khin
    June 12, 2012 at 3:36 am

    Hello there,

    Having read through above various articles and I would like know if there any private ISP(internet service provider) in Burma and what is our broadband service within the country.
    I have a few connection with some ISP in UK & India who are willing to do telecommunication in Myanmar.
    Could possible to give me some ideal/advise, due to I haven’t got any connection within the department in Myanmar since i left the country for while.

    I would be really appreciate if you would kindly reply back to me on this.

    Thank you

    Kind regards,

    Khin

    • June 17, 2012 at 7:09 pm

      Currently, only government controlled ISP in Myanmar. Things might change in near future.

      • Chan
        May 28, 2013 at 9:30 pm

        I may visit Yangon soon, can i contact you through email?

  15. June 25, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    To add to what Bamarlay said, there was a “soft” announcement that the ministry is looking to do a gradual privatisation. There is also rumour (nothing concrete at present) that an extra 5 telecommunications licences will be released by the Ministry.

    I also have a number of investors that are very interested in the telecomms sector. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn and perhaps we can coorporate.

    http://www.linkedin.com/in/roberteasson

  16. Ronaldo F. Cerezo
    April 21, 2013 at 12:41 pm

    Hi Dear All,
    Im Ronaldo F. Cerezo from philippines. I have almost 4 years experience in telecommunication industry.For my first 2 years im worked at Soon poh Technologies Inc. as an Commissioning telecom engineer im doing commissioning & installation(BTS & Radio/microwave) and then after that im worked at smart communication Inc. as an Power Engineer im the one handling Electrification project of smart cellsites its more on electrical works. And now im currently employed at Huawei Technology its a chinese company as an Facility power Engineer im the one handling and managing Diesel Generator entire Metro manila.

    How can i apply in myanmar in there telecom project? Could please help me. Thank you in advance.

  17. Joey
    June 27, 2013 at 9:18 am

    Dear All,

    im Joey from Singapore. currently i doing a research for Myanmar Telecommunication for my studies, and one of the section i need to include the roadmap/ timeline of Myanmar Telecommunication, however i couldn’t find any of it which the exact years and information.

    Can any one help me ? Thank You.

  18. Myint Swe
    January 6, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Managing Director.
    Ministry of Communications &Information Technology.

    We are working site acquisition, TSS surveying,soil investigation, CME works at several location over 55 coordinates in Myanmar for Ooredoo Tower Project, instruct by Pan Asia Majestic Eagle.
    Now we Technical Engineers,Geologists set up to Registered Company at Trade Commerce Minister, as AMANDA CONSTRUCTION & SOIL INVESTIGATION Co.,Ltd.
    We want to submit our technical know-how , contribute our services.Prefer to accept our application and records to get Business Opportunity.
    Best Regards,
    Myint Swe
    Managing Director.
    AMANDA CONSTRUCTION & SOIL INVESTIGATION.
    myintswe.amandaconstruction@gmail.com
    info.amandaconstruction@gmail.com
    09 254553026 / 09 311 37344 / 09 49 333501 .

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