Facebook and Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications (MPT) have launched a trial of Discover, a new mobile web and Android app that can be used to browse the internet using a daily balance of free data from MPT. Discover is being provided during the coronavirus pandemic.
Discover supports only low-bandwidth traffic when using free data, so that video, audio, and certain other types of data-intensive traffic are not supported.
MPT subscribers can now access Discover by visiting 0.discoverapp.com on any mobile web browser on any type of mobile device, including basic feature phones, as well as by downloading the Discover app in the Google Play Store.
MPT, Myanmar’s biggest mobile operator, is part of a state-run company that also encompasses the postal service and dates back to the late 19th century, when the British ran Burma, as it was then called. With its dominant position in the country’s marketplace, MPT is able to reach a large preponderance of citizens and to help them get through the pandemic period, during which job losses and general economic damage from shutdowns have made it difficult for many to afford mobile services, even as use of mobile connectivity becomes more important than ever due to the need to work from home.
MPT’s way of doing this is interesting, in that rather than simply providing discounted or free data, it has partnered with Facebook to create an app that essentially creates a parallel internet universe, bypassing standard browsers, that has such low bandwidth that it does not support high-data functionalities including video and audio.
Doing it this way certainly saves the operator money while providing users with the absolute bare minimum necessary to get on the mobile internet. However, given that most consumers—even lower-end ones—in today’s world consider video and audio to be essentials, not to mention other features that require large amounts of data (and that goes as well for business use), we wonder whether this joint venture of Facebook and MPT will satisfy subscribers fully, or at all. At least it will allow them to access Facebook, presumably the less feature-rich versions of it. Ultimately, MPT may be so secure in the marketplace that it may not care very much if this offer displeases some, and it can credibly claim that during the pandemic, it offered a solution for those who need mobile data and have trouble affording standard tariffs.