By MIN LWIN
The Irrawaddy News
Mobile phone users in Burma can now send and receive e-mail and short messaging system text (SMS) outside the country through the E-Trade Company Web site, according to an E-Trade Myanmar Company staff member.
The Burmese government approved the international text messaging service several months ago, and about 1,000 customers are now registered with the company, according to the staff member.
Currently, the Burmese government bans transmission of short messaging system texts (SMS) and voice mail from GSM to GSM mobile phones outside the country.
“GSM phones in foreign countries can now send test messages to Burma,” he told The Irrawaddy on Thursday. “Before to use GSM all users had to register with a Web site abroad.”
To use the E-Trade Web site service, a user must register as a member. A membership fee is 5,000 kyat (US $4) and prepaid user charges are available at 15,000 and 20,000 kyat.
“Inside Burma, a text message cost 100 kyat for local GSM to e-mail,” he said, “SMS text messages cost from 216 kyat to 600 kyat according to the country the text is sent to.”
After learning about the service, a student at Singapore University said he would advise users to be careful when sending text messages using the company’s service since all messages are retained in the company’s server.
“It (registration with a company inside Burma) can intrude on your privacy because every message is saved in their server,” he said.
Information technology students in Burma note that the military government controls all communication, phone and Internet activity.
GSM phones were introduced by Myanmar Post and Telecom in 2002. Despite being more expensive, they’ve quickly become more popular than CDMA and cell phones because they more functions over a greater area.
“The Burmese mobile telephone market flourishes, and there are more than 200,000 GSM phones in use in Burma,” said a mobile phone shop owner. The price of a GSM phone now is about 1.1 million kyat (US $916).