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Internet service restored but access slow

(Mizzima/IFEX) - Internet service has been restored in Burma but access is at a snail's pace. The service, which has been sporadic since the September protests, is again accessible, but Internet surfers in Burma said they are forced to wait hours before they are able to send an e-mail.

In late September, Internet service was cut off completely. Since then, it has been on and off throughout October. Users said the Internet, which is once again accessible as of 3 November 2007, is extremely slow.

"We can access the Net but the speed is terribly slow. Just for checking an e-mail, we have to wait for hours. We do not know what is wrong. We sent some e-mails but we are not sure whether it will reach," an Internet user in Rangoon told Mizzima.

The last time Internet service was cut was on 1 November, a day after a brief protest by monks in Pakokku town, in central Burma, and ahead of UN special envoy Ibrahim Gambari's visit to Burma.

Internet speed is not only slow in Rangoon but users in different parts of Burma, including Sagaing and Monywa in upper Burma, are experiencing similar problems.

"It is the same here in Monywa; we can't even open our e-mails. Just to be able to chat, we have to try for more than half an hour. The speed is too slow; it is difficult to work," an Internet user in Monywa told Mizzima.

According to the Open Net Initiative, a group monitoring Internet censorship around the world, there are less than one percent of Internet users in Burma out of an estimated population of 52 million.

The two Internet Service Providers - MPT (Myanmar Post and Telecommunication) and the Myanmar Teleport, earlier known as Bagan Cybertech - have heavily filtered and banned anti-government websites, political and human rights websites, including the sites of media organizations in exile.

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