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Myanmar Junta Orders Indefinite Mobile Internet Shutdown

Myanmar’s military rulers have ordered Internet service providers to shut down wireless broadband services until further notice, several telecom sources said on April 1, Reuters reported.

The military did not announce or explain its order. Internet is now only available on fixed lines, rare in Myanmar where most homes and businesses are connected through wireless networks.

Cutting all WiFi-based wireless access will add to the growing restrictions on Myanmar’s telecommunications and Internet space. The junta already imposed a total data blackout twice since the February 1 coup, blocked social media platforms and websites and put in place a nightly Internet shutdown.

The shutdown is depriving most customers of Internet access. In response, anti-coup groups have shared radio frequencies, mobile apps such as maps that work without a data connection, as well as SMS messaging as an alternative to data services to communicate.

Businesses voice concern over Internet shutdown

Ahead of the suspension of Internet services, social media was flooded with posts and tweets reflecting anxiety of the impending news blackout, with some recommending independent radio stations as the only way to sustain protest momentum.

Further, the military has ignored pleas by businesses and foreign chambers of commerce to restore Internet access.

“Business operations have also become extremely challenging, particularly disruptions to Internet services. We all rely on [the] internet, and without it many basic services cannot be provided to millions of Myanmar citizens,” a joint statement by the Australian, UK, French and New Zealand chambers of commerce in Myanmar said.

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