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Ban of popular internet telephony Mediaring Talk

(Mizzima/IFEX) - The following is a statement from Mizzima News, an interim member of IFEX:

The Burmese military junta has banned the use of the popular internet telephony Mediaring Talk, an online telephone-enabled overseas telecommunication system which was available at cheap rates, sources in Rangoon said.

Mediaring Talk was banned by Burma's Ministry of Communication, Post and Telegraph as of mid-July 2007, said an employee working at one of Rangoon's internet cafés, the Cyber World. "Earlier customers were able to use Mediaring Talk. But it is banned now, it has been about a week or two that it can no longer be used," the employee added.

Mediaring Talk, which allowed free phone calls to Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, the UK the USA and provided low rates to other countries, was introduced in Rangoon about six months ago. It became popular among users who wished to communicate with people abroad, said an employee of an internet café at the popular Junction 8 shopping centre in Rangoon.

"Now we have no customers using Mediaring Talk. And it has been about a month that our internet connection has become very slow. And if internet is slow, Mediaring Talk does not work. Even though we made enquiries about the ban, no specific reasons were given," she added.

"Mediaring Talk might have been banned because it is cheap. In cyber cafés they only need to pay the internet usage charges to call overseas. Here all voice chats are banned," the employee at Cyber World told Mizzima.

According to observers, banning the popular free voice calls and slowing down the internet connection before the opening of the National Convention on Burma's Martyr's Day could be a move by the government to prevent dissidents from communicating in and outside Burma.

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