World VoIP NewsBurmese Government bans VoIP communicationBurmese Government bans VoIP communication

Burmese Government bans VoIP communication

Burmese Government bans VoIP communication
Specific directive from Burmese Telecommunication and Communication Ministry is banning the implementation of Internet for ‘voice over Internet protocol’ (VOIP) international calls. The document was signed by Managing Director Tint Lwin of Myanmar Communication, Post and Telegraph Corporation, declaring that overseas calls forwarded via VOIP, including Skype, Gtalk, Pfingo and VZO are resulting massive losses to government revenue. Still, it is unclear what kinds of punishments are planned to impose for people using such services or, above all, how the provisional implementation of the services would be monitored.
The directive was delivered first to the chairman of Myanmar Info-Tech Corp. Ltd.; this entity is endorsed by control of all Public Access Centres (PAC), or Internet cafes, through around the country. Internet cafés dealers stated in a recent blitz-survey that Skype and Pfingo VOIP services are used massively for making international calls by local Internet users. So, making a simplistic comparison, the overseas call fees (international direct dialing, or IDD) by government-run operators are extremely expensive for many consumers, and it supposed to be paid in Foreign Exchange Certificate (FEC). The calls thru VOIP are just a fraction of the cost. The overseas call (IDD) rate is FEC 4.5 (about 4,000 kyat; US$ 4) to the USA for the first minute; FEC 1.4 for Thailand (about 1,000 kyat). If consumers take the VOIP: calls costs about 100 kyat (US$ 12 cents) per minute to the USA and 50 kyat (US$ 6 cents) per minute to Thailand. Burmese governmental telecommunication operators have sold pre-paid GSM SIM cards with cheaper rates within last year, and it was quite popular in the public. However, the government has cancelled or restricted the sale of SIM cards after the November 2010 general election.

Yet, Internet cafés owners say that they have not received any official notification about the ban. There are two public Internet service providers in the country: Yadanapon Teleport and Myanmar Post and Telegraph (MPT). The new directive will not affect a revenue loss for Internet café operators but only affect Internet users, an Internet café operator in Ahlone Township said in a phone interview: “If they cannot make oversea calls through these VOIP services, they will instead use the Gtalk and Skype computer to computer service by making a pre-appointment with their friend or family members, since they will not be able to call directly to their phone’, said a café operator. They must wait until their party is online. The internet connection is too slow here, so it will cause more inconveniences and difficulties for our customers’, he said.

News received from Utube.

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