Protests Myanmar Netblocksfingasengadget: A recent network outage caused by a botched cable installation in Myanmar has left the country’s internet connectivity at 16% of ordinary levels, indicating a near-total internet shutdown.
The recent cable installation on the public switch connecting Yangon to Mandalay has now been offline for almost two weeks. The collapse of the connection to Yangon, which is Myanmar’s largest city, was reported on July 14th and it hasn’t yet been fixed.
The country-wide outage comes just weeks after more than a hundred internet services were cut off in Myanmar’s largest city, Yangon.
Myanmar experienced a partial blackout on January 16th that saw connectivity drop as low as 5% of ordinary levels, according to network monitoring site Scan State. This is believed to be the first time that Myanmar has suffered a total shutdown in its history and was caused by faulty cable installation.
The country’s telecommunications regulator, the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, did not respond to requests for comment.
“You wouldn’t notice a significant difference in performance between home and office broadband as you would with mobile phones,” says Euan Graham, co-founder of anti-censorship group FreeNet who has followed the development of Myanmar’s internet due to his work with opposition political party National League for Democracy (NLD). “What we are seeing is a huge problem with connectivity that is only going to get worse. Since the last blackout, there has been extensive house-to-house surveys in the country by international media to see how much connectivity is being provided.”
“Once you have limited internet to just a few towns, you are left with a huge problem in getting people to get online and start using it as a source of information,” he adds. “There needs to be urgent stop-work on all the other unfinished copper cables that are being laid across the country. There is a lot of rhetoric from the government about how the country is cutting edge, but the reality doesn’t match that.”
The cables are part of the government’s $600 million communications infrastructure upgrade that was launched in August 2015. The project is scheduled to be completed in 2020, with over 2,500km of fibre-optic and coaxial cable laid across the country.
Following an initial rollout in Mandalay and Yangon, several regional cable outages were reported in May 2016.
Additionally, both the Myanmar Civil Service Network (MCSSN) and the Myanmar Postal Service (MPS) witnessed problems in the same period that included an outage on the first weekend of May in which a number of customers received no service for 24 hours. The MPS outage lasted for over a week before it was resolved.
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