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3G arrives in Rangoon

8 Jul 2008

According to a report carried by the Burmese news site Mizzima, Burma’s military junta authorities have begun distributing W-CDMA handsets. Citing an official at the Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) Department, the reports adds that due to ‘infrastructure inadequacies’ the authorities have only been able to distribute 50 W-CDMA phones since the beginning of July. ‘We need to do a lot more in terms of construction of towers and need more time for tests, after that more telephones will be offered,’ the official said. About 200,000 mobile phones will be distributed across the country once the infrastructure is in place, he added.

According to the official, the new 3G handsets are priced at MMK2.8 million (USD2,150), while GSM and CDMA equivalents cost MMK2.3 million and MMK2.1 million respectively. However, these are black market prices: it is virtually impossible for ordinary people to buy mobile phones through regular channels. Citizens may apply for a mobile phone at the MPT, but because government officials and employees are given priority, the man on the street’s chances of getting mobile are reported to be ‘slim’.

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