Google chairman’s next stop: Myanmar

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Google Schmidt
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt

The untapped internet market of Myanmar is on the radar of Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who visits the country on March 22.

Myanmar currently has an internet penetration as low as 1 per cent, according to World Bank figures. Other sources reported even lower numbers: The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR said that in 2012 of around 53.4 million people in the country only 300,000 had access to the Internet, which results in a penetration of just 0.74 per cent.

Many websites were banned until 2010, but after the restrictions have been gradually eased. However, the government still controls prices of Internet connections which are purposely high and make the web inaccessible for average citizens. Out of the two largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, and the capital Naypyidaw, connections are slow or even non-existent.

With the opening up of the country, the telecom and Internet sector is now seen as a goldmine for tech investors. The whole information technology sector in Myanmar could develop into a potential billion-dollar industry, soon to be boosted by planned advances in telecommunications. Two licenses will shortly be awarded to foreign operators, a step that is expected to improve Internet and mobile networks there.

The government hopes to increase mobile phone ownership to 80 per cent of the population by 2016, from 9 per cent now, presenting huge opportunities for any company operating in the mobile Internet space.

Unlike Schmidt’s controversial visit to North Korea in January 2013, in which Google described as a “personal” trip, the visit to Myanmar falls within his mandate as executive chairman, which involves government outreach, thought leadership and building partnerships and business relationships, the company said.

Schmidt is due to give a speech at the Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Park in Yangon on March 22, before making his way to the capital, Naypyitaw, to meet senior government officials.

Reportedly, the company works on a Google version for Myanmar in Burmese language to be released soon.

In February 2013, Myanmar was visited by a delegation of US-based IT firms including Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Microsoft to explore opportunities in the market. The companies said they were ready to invest in the country to improve its IT infrastructure but were still worried about privacy issues and unclear investment regulations.

 

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Reading Time: 2 minutes

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt

The untapped internet market of Myanmar is on the radar of Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who visits the country on March 22.

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Google Schmidt
Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt

The untapped internet market of Myanmar is on the radar of Google’s executive chairman Eric Schmidt, who visits the country on March 22.

Myanmar currently has an internet penetration as low as 1 per cent, according to World Bank figures. Other sources reported even lower numbers: The UN Refugee Agency UNHCR said that in 2012 of around 53.4 million people in the country only 300,000 had access to the Internet, which results in a penetration of just 0.74 per cent.

Many websites were banned until 2010, but after the restrictions have been gradually eased. However, the government still controls prices of Internet connections which are purposely high and make the web inaccessible for average citizens. Out of the two largest cities, Yangon and Mandalay, and the capital Naypyidaw, connections are slow or even non-existent.

With the opening up of the country, the telecom and Internet sector is now seen as a goldmine for tech investors. The whole information technology sector in Myanmar could develop into a potential billion-dollar industry, soon to be boosted by planned advances in telecommunications. Two licenses will shortly be awarded to foreign operators, a step that is expected to improve Internet and mobile networks there.

The government hopes to increase mobile phone ownership to 80 per cent of the population by 2016, from 9 per cent now, presenting huge opportunities for any company operating in the mobile Internet space.

Unlike Schmidt’s controversial visit to North Korea in January 2013, in which Google described as a “personal” trip, the visit to Myanmar falls within his mandate as executive chairman, which involves government outreach, thought leadership and building partnerships and business relationships, the company said.

Schmidt is due to give a speech at the Myanmar Information and Communication Technology Park in Yangon on March 22, before making his way to the capital, Naypyitaw, to meet senior government officials.

Reportedly, the company works on a Google version for Myanmar in Burmese language to be released soon.

In February 2013, Myanmar was visited by a delegation of US-based IT firms including Cisco Systems, Hewlett-Packard, Intel and Microsoft to explore opportunities in the market. The companies said they were ready to invest in the country to improve its IT infrastructure but were still worried about privacy issues and unclear investment regulations.

 

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