PCO – Public Phones in Myanmar

Myanmar public phone

This is what a PCO looks like in Myanmar. PCO stands for Public Call Outlet, a public telephone. Unlike those from other countries, there are no public phones using coins or card. Instead, at a PCO, there are one or two ordinary fixed land line telephones with an attendance to mark time and charge the user. Although not as convenient and as private as true public telephone booths, it is a popular and widely used public communication system in a country where very few people have fixed land line phone or mobile phone.

In small towns and villages, usually there are no automatic telephone exchanges. They have to rely on old and outdated manual telephone exchanges where the caller has to ask the operator to connect his or her call. To call other towns, that is, to make trunk calls, you have to book the call with the operator, or come to one of a few PCOs in the town. This is how I call my family while I was in Chin State.

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