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Myanmar internet gets boost with content delivery network

Myanmar internet users will start benefiting from changes in the law that encourages foreign direct investment in communications infrastructures

Internet users in Myanmar have received a speed boost as Norway’s Telenor and local company Yatanarpon Teleport (YTP) go live with Google Global Cache (GGC). This represents the first active content delivery network (CDN) resource in one of the last untapped telecommunications markets in the world.

In addition, CDNetworks has established points of presence (PoPs) in Myanmar as part of a partnership with its parent company KDDI Group. KDDI entered the communication business in Myanmar as part of a collaboration with Sumitomo Corporation and Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications in July 2014.

“While there has been some local hosting of web pages, prior to June 2015 there hadn’t been any international hosting companies with a local presence in Myanmar,” said Doug Madory, director of internet analysis at internet performance monitoring company Dyn.

This flurry of activity follows Myanmar’s 2013 Telecommunications Law, as part of its effort to open the country to the rest of the world, in particular to foreign direct investments, said Ye Myat Thu, executive committee member at Union of Myanmar Chamber of Commerce and Industry.

“The law has resulted in the entry of telecom partners like Norway’s Telenor and Qatar’s Ooredoo. Since then, they have built a lot of infrastructure for both internal links and those that cross border lines, and built servers and other facilities for the internet,” said Ye.

The CDNs offer a tremendous increase in web performance and efficiency and allow content to be hosted closer to the user, eliminating the need to connect to servers in other countries. From an internet service provider’s (ISP) perspective, there is also the benefit of a reduction in the amount of wholesale bandwidth it must pay to serve its customers. 

“Imagine the scenario where a YouTube video goes viral and is viewed 10,000 times by the users of an ISP. Without a GGC, that video must be pulled down across congested international links 10,000 times. If there is a GGC in operation, it just needs to be loaded once. This reduces costs for the ISP and results in faster service for the users,” said Madory.

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CDNetworks is a more traditional CDN, said Madory. It may host web content its customers have chosen and is specific to a single supplier, such as the GGCs are to Google. The GGC nodes are specifically designed to deliver Google services, with the biggest benefit being the caching of YouTube videos.

To increase the resilience and performance of the internet in Myanmar in the future, there needs to be better international connectivity and more local hosting, said Madory and Ye.

Currently, Myanmar’s international connectivity is through an outdated SEA-ME-WE 3 submarine cable that regularly suffers technical problems, and terrestrial fibre cables through Thailand that get cut from time to time.

To improve its international internet links, Myanmar is set to connect to two upcoming major submarine cables connecting Europe to the Far East (AAE-1 and SMW-5) in 2016, and a less well known Mythic cable project that will be a point-to-point submarine cable connecting Myanmar to Malaysia and Thailand, said Madory.

On the local front, a positive shift to better internet connectivity would be for additional ISPs in Myanmar to get their own GGC nodes, as well as have more major CDN operators locate PoPs in Myanmar to locally serve additional content. 

Domestic connections that include the local ADSL, E1 and fibre links between the ISPs and PoPs to the customer network also need to be improved, said Ye.

Across Asean countries, internet penetration varies from as much as 73% of the population in Singapore to little more than 1% in Myanmar, according to the Internet Society.

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