Myanmar to introduce 40,000 GSM phones in Yangon

The following is the report from the Xinhua News Agency published in China People’s Daily.

“The Myanmar Telecommunication authorities will add 40,000 more new Global System for Mobile (GSM) phone lines in the city of Yangon to facilitate users as part of its bid to enhance the development of the telecommunication sectors, a local weekly reported Monday.

With the existing 81,000 GSM lines in operation, the number of them will be brought to over 120,000 after the addition, the Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) was quoted by the Weekly Eleven News as saying.

Under the current population in Yangon, which stands at 5.2 million now, there will be one GSM phone per 43 persons in the near future, the sources said.

Besides, the authorities is also planning to add more new GSM lines in other cities such as Mandalay, Monywa, Magway and Mawlamyine

Since last year, two Chinese telecommunication companies, the Alcatel Shanghai Bell Co and the ZTE company have been involved in Myanmar’s GSM expansion projects under contracts.

Meanwhile, Myanmar has planned to raise its telephone density by up to 3 percent within the next two years. The country’s present telephone density stands at 0.8 percent that is 8 per 1, 000 people out of its population.

Myanmar now has 416,000 telephone lines and 63,150 mobile ones.

Myanmar introduced the cellular system in 1993, followed by the DECT and CDMA systems in 1997 and the GSM system in 2002.

The MPT remains at present the only mobile phone service provider in Myanmar.”

However, the news report does not mention whether this means the additional of infrastructure to handle 40,000 more GSM lines, or just a plan to sell more 40,000 SIM cards. Myanmar telecoms had been selling GSM SIM cards without properly upgrading the mobile service infrastructure in the past, and this resulted in a congestion of GSM phone communications, with users uttering their frustration trying to conncect to or from the GSM phones. Many a time, although the GSM phone is switchd on, the caller only hears “out of service message“. GSM users trying to connect other fixed or mobile phones also experience difficulty connecting. The voice quality is also severely reduced with many clicks and cracks. If the addition of 40,000 GSM mobile phones is not supported by upgrade in the infrastructure to handle this increase traffic, users of GSM mobile phones in Myanmar might experience more difficulty, and even more reduced voice quality in the near future.

The news report also did not mention whether this increase in number is in post paid sector or in prepaid GSM SIM cards that is newly introduced in Myanmar.

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