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Telenor’s small step for Myanmar’s giant leap

Health of Internet depends on the diversity of route and bandwidth providers in a country. Less than a month ago Renesys has diagnosed the health of Myanmar “as being at severe risk of Internet disconnection” along with Syria, Turkmenistan, Ethiopia, Uzbekistan, Yemen and others.

Not anymore!

At 19:26 UTC on 8 March 2014, we observed Telenor Global Services activate the first international Internet connection out of Myanmar that didn’t rely on the services of incumbent MPT. At present, Telenor Global Services (AS15932) is only announcing a single prefix from Myanmar, namely, 103.255.172.0/24. This is likely just an initial step as the company builds out its services in the Southeast Asian country. We expect to see additional routes showing up in coming months.

Currently, this network is only connected to the outside world through Tata services in Singapore. Tata reaches Myanmar via the sole submarine cable that comes ashore there, Sea-Me-We-3, which was built in 1999 and is ancient by today’s standards. Using Renesys Internet Intelligence (RII) pictured below, we can see that Telenor’s infrastructure in Yangon (formerly Rangoon) is currently about 67ms away from Singapore, one of the major crossroads of the global Internet. Performance to the US and Europe was quite poor when these measurements were taken (over 300ms), a common situation for Myanmar.

Telenor is using the “ancient” SEA-ME-WE3 submarine cable to reach the data center of Tata. It is a clear rejection to the poorly constructed GMS terrestrial network, which is also like SEA-ME-WE3, belongs to the state-owned incumbents. It will be quite interesting to see how Telenor’s Qatari competitor Ooredoo links Myanmar with rest of the world. Douglas Madory of Renesys Corp. brilliantly explains.

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