(Mizzima) – The Burmese Parliament reconvened in Naypyitaw on Monday after adjournment for a month to continue discussions with 377 members in the House of Representatives (Lower House) and 215 members in the House of Nationalities (Upper House), totaling 592 members.
The Parliament members include 25 percent non-elected, appointed military representatives.
Newly elected members of the National League for Democracy did not attend the opening session, and are awaiting a resolution to a dispute over the wording of the oath of office.
In the April 1 by-elections, the Aung San Suu Kyi-led National League for Democracy (NLD) won 43 out of 45 open parliamentary seats, 37 in the Lower House, four in the Upper House and two with the region or state parliament.
Among the questions and answers that took place in the Upper House on Monday was a dialogue on telecommunication and Internet service in the country.
Deputy Minister for Communications, Posts and Telegraphs U Tint Lwin, in reply to a question about the government possibly bringing down the high price of internet charges and plans for speedy internet connections, said the ministry had been bringing down initial installation charges to ensure the public had access to telecommunication services step by step, according to a report in The New Light of Myanmar, the state-run newspaper.
In addition, he said the government planned to extend its mobile phone services to rural regions and the installation charges would be reduced step by step to a level with those of neighbouring countries.
Telecommunications infrastructure for the first year of the mobile phone project took time for initial installation, he said. But in the coming years of the project, the cash capital would be decreased as it was only needed to extend the infrastructure.
Phone charges could then be reduced to be level with international countries, he said.
He said the ministry would work in partnership with communication services companies with experience in international communication, strong investment power and advanced technology. There are a lot of local and foreign companies wishing to invest in communication sector, he said.
The ministry was holding discussions with some international companies. They said that they can acquire capital, technology and equipment, but the infrastructure construction would take over one year. Regarding a second question, the high cost of initial Internet installation, in comparison with neighbouring counries, resulted from costly Internet infrastructure. Still, the monthly Internet service charge was lesser or level to some countries, he said.
He said initial installation charges were brought down to around one-half and an increase in the number of Internet users would lead to further declines in initial installation charges, covering the network construction costs.
Regarding the slow Internet connection speed, he said experts from the National Computer System (NCS) Co Ltd and Loxley Co Ltd of Thailand were invited in November and December 2011 to analyze the core network of the two ISP providers, in the ministry’s efforts to upgrade the Internet network.
Observers said the question and answer session on telecommunications was productive, giving lawmakers a better understanding of the government’s efforts, which are essential to raise the level of technological sophistication in the country.
Telecommunications and Internet service have been a concern expressed by members of Asean countries who are scheduled to hold a summit meeting in Burma in 2014.