The future prospects of Internet use in Myanmar

Myanmar’s Internet usage has grown exponentially in recent years. It’s not that unusual. With the investment of foreign telephone operators, the number of mobile phone owners has also increased, and internet usage has increased by 97 percent. However, compared to the use of the internet by other countries in the region, Myanmar’s usage is interesting. Why? According to Mozilla’s analysis, Internet usage in Myanmar is on the decline. That’s because it’s the most used for social media. It’s not that unusual since every internet user is only using it for their favorite content. Behind this phenomenon is an important market competition. It cannot be denied that the popular services among Myanmar’s Internet users are more or less influential. The first to become popular were the free data plans.

Mainly thanks to MPT’s Facebook Flex plan, which reduced the data usage when using Facebook, many people got into the habit of using social networks more than before. This program also allows you to read some internet pages (Myanmar Wikipedia and other related pages) for free data, so it is not wrong if it is quite convenient. Later, other telephone operators started offering social network-only services at low prices, so the number of Internet users in Myanmar has increased. In other words, there aren’t many free/paid Wi-Fi services But these services are not perfect.

For example, most Internet users have access to a wide variety of other content because they only have access to approved websites and applications. In other countries, various knowledge content is available through the Internet, but in Myanmar, we still cannot use this opportunity fully. This shows that more data services still need to be provided. Peter Singhon, a policy member of Google, said about the Myanmar internet service survey, “There are similarities among internet users all over the world, including Myanmar. When I asked the purpose of Internet users in Myanmar, all of them answered that it was to connect with family and friends to cease to relax We only saw the fact that they use the Internet to get news and knowledge,” he said. Not only that. “To fulfill these purposes, various data services, It is also seen that Myanmar Internet users are using more mobile phones that can be used to change the operator of their choice, which can add more SIM cards,” Singhon added. In the same way, the executive chairman of LIRNEasia, Helen Galpaya, said that Chinese mobile phones, which can use 2 SIM cards at the same time, are leading the way in the Myanmar mobile phone usage sector.

It has been noted that mainly Myanmar people use Android phones, which are easy to use. Looking at these, there are things to consider in increasing the Internet access for the Myanmar public. In a recent study, Telenor’s free data plan was popular among Myanmar internet users, but it would be better if it could include a wider range of services than social networking, Peter Singhon and Helen Gelpaia suggested. They both hope that innovative data services will become something that should be reformed to improve Internet literacy among the Myanmar public. “Another hurdle to overcome in order to become a widespread internet user in Myanmar is Facebook. Like other developing countries, it is not surprising that Facebook is the main Internet user in Myanmar, but it is surprising that Facebook users do not consider whether or not it is a free plan.

The presence absence of these programs has no effect on Facebook usage. “If you ask Burmese mobile phone users, this social network is so popular in Myanmar that they mistakenly think that the Internet means using Facebook,” Gelpaya said in surprise. According to a survey conducted by Statcounter in October 2017 to find out the state of social network usage in Myanmar, as expected, Facebook took the lead with 94.18 percent usage. Unexpectedly in second place was Twitter, and surprisingly, the once popular YouTube was only in fourth place. “Facebook is very popular in Myanmar, so users are not interested in reading other websites,” said Singhon. For another thing, “Facebook has political associations, companies, “The fact that you can find a variety of content through services and social organizations’ own pages is making Internet users never want to leave Facebook,” Gelpaia said thoughtfully.

“To put it bluntly, this incident is like being in a Catch-22 (being stuck without being able to escape). You provide great data services so people can use the Internet more. People are using Facebook more and more through that service. No matter how many services you provide, users will not be particularly interested in the rest of the Internet pages except for social networks. In terms of market competition, as much as we try to keep the data plans fresh, the scope of Internet use among the public cannot be said to be widening,” Singhon said with a laugh. “Another important barrier to the widespread use of the Internet is language. In order to increase Internet usage by the people of Myanmar, it is necessary to read and use all popular websites in Burmese. “Internet services using other languages ​​are not very compatible for Myanmar,” Singhon noted. He explained it with a clear example.

It’s about a Yangon-based website that provides health education for pregnant women. That educational page can also be found on Facebook. “The difficulty they encountered was using Facebook advertising services to deliver more effective information. The number of characters that can be used for advertising is limited. So if you write in Burmese I can’t make sense of it. As for writing in English, most users don’t understand and are not interested. I had a very difficult language problem. These are the factors that must be considered in the widespread use of the Internet. The lucky thing is that later Zaw Ji, Singhon concluded by predicting that the use of Burmese writing such as Unicode (D) will be widely used, so it will be easier to use the Internet than before.

Finally, according to Mozilla’s analysis, Myanmar Internet users are eager to enter a wider and more sophisticated field of technology. Data service plans are also expected to improve. Currently, Facebook is the most used, but it is believed that in the future, not only the social network, but also other Internet pages will be read and used more. For this widespread use of the Internet, we hope that mobile operators can develop and offer data services that are mutually convenient between the user and the service provider.