Mobile phones allowed in Burma's secretive capital

Oct 23, 2009 (DVB), The use of mobile phones in Burma's jungle capital of Naypyidaw has been permitted by government authorities for the first time since it opened in 2005.

Security reasons had previously prohibited use of mobile phones in the capital, which is populated mostly by government staff.

The Burmese regime in 2005 moved the capital 350 miles north of its former location in Rangoon, allegedly making it less susceptible to foreign invasion.

An official at the government's Post and Telecommunications Department in Naypyidaw confirmed that use of CDMA (code division multiple access) mobile phones began on 19 October, while temporary mobile phone towers were being built in some areas.

The government reportedly also has plans to introduce other mobile networks in the area in the near future.

A private business owner in Naypyidaw said that the introduction of the phones has made communication in the region much easier.

The astronomical cost of mobile phones in Burma however will likely limit their usage, with prices ranging between $US800 and $US2500. The average annual wage in Burma is around $US200 per capita.

Security around Naypyidaw, which means 'Abode of Kings' is tight, with the government headquarters hidden inside a hilly compound, and only open to military officials.

Much of the city is still under construction, which isn't expected to be finished until at least 2012.

Reporting by Ahunt Phone Myat

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