Opera to help support internet accessibility in Myanmar

In Yangon, Myanmar, it’s been a few years since the military made the decision to let citizens govern themselves. The city’s infrastructure is still not well-developed, and the residents remain quite traditional. One thing that is noticeable, however, is that a lot of people use smartphones in Yangon.

Opera, an active player in the global web browser business, came to Yangon last weekend to share an initiative with the emerging market.

During a joint meetup hosted by Tech in Asia and Opera, Huib Kleinhout, the product manager of Opera Coast, says that Myanmar is a very exciting market, and Opera wants to take part in its growth.

According to him, only five percent of the Myanmar population is online, and 48 percent of those run on 3G and 4G broadband connections.

Those figures should come as no big surprise as back in 2009 a SIM card costed around US$2,000. Last year Qatar’s Ooredoo and Norway’s Telenor entered the market and enabled 3G network access for as low as US$1.50. The two companies are building a network of cell towers to help ease Myanmar’s infrastructure woes.

Kleinhout and Jasmin Gill, Opera’s communications specialist for South Asia, say that they have come to Myanmar to connect the unconnected. In terms of tech sophistication, Huib believes that Myanmar should be able to catch up with other emerging markets in Southeast Asia, despite having a late start.

He adds that Myanmar doesn’t need to undergo much research and development or go through stages of “trial-and-error.” It has the advantage of being able to learn from its neighboring countries in that respect. Myanmar can directly replicate working business models that are safe on a developing budget.

Kleinhout is sure that growth in Myanmar is imminent.

Opera Mini, the firm’s mobile browser for Android and iOS, already has a total of 350 million users.

Opera Mini helps users by sending their requests to the Opera Mini server, where queries and results are then compressed and sent back to users. This helps cut down on the amount of data used by the customer.
As the majority of data users in Myanmar operate on prepaid plans, Opera Mini could be one option to help them manage their data usage.

Currently, Opera is in talks with Telenor about how to better serve the people of Myanmar. We can expect better internet accessibility for people in Myanmar with the tech and infrastructure support that both companies are keen to provide.

Source: Tech in Asia

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