SEAPA newsletter: “Public service” mobile phones disconnected in Burma

August 15, 2007

Burmese Ruthless Dictators strip  away yet another right from it’s people.

Subject:     SEAPA newsletter: “Public service” mobile phones disconnected in Burma

Alert-Burma
14 August 2007
Source: Mizzima News

“Public service” mobile phones disconnected in Burma, further
limiting access to information

With the media fully controlled and the Internet restricted, the
Burmese junta is now paving over cracks in its hold of information
brought on by advances in telecommunications.

Authorities in the Lashio town of Shan state in northern Burma
recently disconnected the lines of more than 400 mobile telephones
that had been rented for public use, further restricting local
residents’ access to information from relatives and friends outside
the country.

Because landlines are beset by a host of infrastructural problems
and constantly tapped by the authorities, making communication with
people overseas especially difficult, Public Call Office (PCO)
operators in Lashio had hired mobile telephones for about 60,000
Kyat (approx. US$50) each for their business.

These “public service” mobile phones are a popular alternative to
landlines since even a simple overseas call through the latter
requires an explanation to the operators and the call rates are
extremely high.

They also serve as one of the channels of information for those
living inside the totalitarian state.

However, the lines of these mobile telephones have been temporarily
disconnected following a review of the profile of their owners as
the Burmese authorities have clued in on this practice, targeting
those whose bill exceeded over 100,000 Kyat (approx. US$80) a month.

“The authorities said the mobile lines have been cut off because
they are used for commercial purposes. But I feel that it is not
their concern whether we use them for commercial activity or not as
long as we can clear the bill,” a PCO operator told Mizzima.

Although some mobile phone users have provided valid reasons for
their excessive bills, none of the connections has been revived; in
fact, more mobile phone lines were disconnected in Lashio town
after that.

Prior to this, in mid-July 2007, Burmese authorities banned an
Internet telephony, MediaRing Talk, which enables free calls to
specified countries through the Internet.

On 13 July, Burma’s Telecommunication Department, under the
Ministry of Communication, Posts and Telegraph, issued a notice
that mobile phone users should inform the department of overseas
calls that gave local number identifications. These calls are made
through Voice-over-Internet Protocol (VoIP), rending obsolete the
use of overseas phone cards that have to go through the ministry,
which charges US$0.24 per minute for it. By preventing calls made
through VoIP, the ministry is attempting to curb the flow of
information from abroad that is facilitated by the cheaper rates.

————————————————————
Southeast Asian Press Alliance
538/1 Samsen Rd., Dusit, Bangkok 10300.
Tel: 66-2-2435579, 66-2-2435373, Fax: 66-2-2448749

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