LIRNEasia is a regional ICT policy and regulation think tank active across the Asia Pacific

Myanmar’s walled garden has holes, big ones. Maybe enough to drive a truck through

The debate on zero rating has been heavy on overwrought analogies and light on actual evidence. Here is evidence from focus groups of people who actually use zero rating in Myanmar. Research conducted by Peter Cihon and Helani Galpaya with support from Mozilla Foundation and others.

Perception and visibility aside, users do not remain within the ‘walled garden’. Most
active zero-rated-content users also use other Internet services, including Google,
news websites, and apps. Respondents describe following links from within Facebook
to external websites. Exiting the walled garden is more common among urban
respondents, but most rural respondents who use zero-rated content also use other
applications online, commonly BeeTalk or Clash of Clans.

Three respondents describe using only zero-rated services on the Internet: one urban,
middle-income and two rural, lower-income users subscribe to Telenor Free and use
Facebook and Viber exclusively. Whether this limited use is due to the availability/use
of zero-rated content is unclear because several respondents describe similarly
limited Internet use while not subscribing to zero-rated content.

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