The liberalization process in Myanmar is chugging along, with an arrest or two, bad advice from the ITU Regional Office and so on. Hope things will get better.
In a poor country like Myanmar, it is hard for grassroots people to get a cell phone. The price has dropped to 150,000 kyat but there are just 1.24 million mobile phones in a country with a population of over 60 million. Myanmar has a phone ownership ranking of 148, below its neighbour Laos, where nearly 5.5 million people have a mobile phone (world ranking 100), and Thailand, ranked at 18 with about 70 million mobiles. The fact a small country like Laos is ahead of Myanmar on this standard indicates that prices need to be cut further immediately. But catching up to Thailand will take one or two decades.
Recently, Telecommunications Minister Thein Tun was fired and put under investigation for corruption. Another 50 staff in the department are also under investigation. Meanwhile, customers have to pay for sim cards also. This is the thing most customers complain about – Myanmar’s unique corruption. Most government departments seem keen to rob money from people rather than help them. Recently, one of the President’s Office ministers, U Soe Thein, announced that from April 1 the price of mobile phones will come down to an affordable level. But he refused to say what the price range would be.