Myanmar must restore its credibility along Internet

Posted on August 5, 2013  /  0 Comments

Internet in Myanmar has suffered outage on July 20, 2013. Since then the country remains choked in terms of connectivity. Officially the breakdown of only submarine cable (SEA-ME-WE3) at 13 kilometers away from the coast was blamed. The Irrawaddy wrote on July 24:

“Works are being carried out to repair the fault as quick as possible in coordination with [a] Singapore-based underwater repair and maintenance team. It is expected to take about one month,” the state-owned company said in a brief announcement in government newspaper The New Light of Myanmar.

The authorities have, however, restored international connectivity well before 30 days. It was revealed that SEA-ME-WE-3 was not at all snapped in the first place. The terrestrial link from cable landing station was damaged instead. Irrawaddy wrote on July 30:

Previous announcements from MPT had stated that the undersea fiber optic cable known as SEA-ME-WE-3, Burma’s only undersea Internet link, was damaged off the coast of Irrawaddy Division on July 21. But international Internet engineers contacted by The Irrawaddy over the last couple of days said no outages were seen on the international cable, and on Tuesday MPT confirmed that the problem was located in the ground fiber cable 2.5 miles from Pyapon.

Myanmar’s joy of restored Internet was short-lived. Irrawaddy reported on August 5:

Myo Swe, chief engineer of the Information and Technology Department at the state-run Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT), apologized several times for two new problems disrupting the country’s connectivity. He said an underground fiber-optic cable near the Irrawaddy Delta city of Pyapon has been compromised. The fiber cable is damaged in one location, he said, while the power supply is down in another.

The Chief Engineer’s statement has made the credibility of MPT more fragile than Myanmar’s international connectivity. Irrawaddy can hardly be blamed for being judgmental at this point of time:

After weeks of recurrent Internet breakdowns, Burma’s state-run telecommunications said on Monday morning that the latest slowdown would likely be fixed by the evening, but could take up to two days to repair, as the country prepares to celebrate the 25th anniversary of a major pro-democracy uprising.

The 25th anniversary of the Aug. 8, 1988, uprising is only three days away, with a Silver Jubilee celebration in Rangoon set to begin on Tuesday and run through Thursday. The timing of the Internet delays has left some in the country wondering whether the government is attempting to block communication ahead of the celebration.

When asked to comment on the allegation, the MPT’s Myo Swe laughed and said the Internet issues were not related to the anniversary celebration, adding that government officials had urged him to fix the problem as soon as possible. He said he hoped Internet speeds would be back to normal by Monday night but added that the problem might not be completely fixed for a day or two.

The engineer also apologized to businesses in the country for the frequent Internet delays but said there were no plans at the moment to increase robustness.

MPT should restore its credibility while strengthening the country’s international connectivity.

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