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[SHAN STATE, MYANMAR] Mobile phones are common, if not ubiquitous, in most developing nations. But not in Myanmar – until now. For years, the Myanmar government kept a monopoly on the SIM cards needed to connect to mobile networks. As recently as 2009 they cost approximately US$2,000.
Then things began to change. Since 2011, the price of SIM cards has fallen to about US$1.50. And the number of mobile subscriptions has risen from fewer than 600,000 in 2010 to nearly seven million by the end of 2013, in a country of more than 50 million people. The newly available technology is changing how farmers and brokers do business. In the countryside and in the city, agricultural workers say the new phones save them enormous amounts of time and money.