Invest more in infrastructure, gov’t tells telecommunications operators

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Internet data download traffic expanded 104 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, while upload traffic increased more than 92 per cent during the period. Hong Menea

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is urging local telecom operators to inject funding for infrastructure and improve the quality of mobile and internet services, which are in sharp demand.

The ministry assigned the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) to review the quality of service in some areas after reports of disruptions earlier this week.

 

It said in a statement: “All mobile telecommunications operators need to improve the quality of their telecommunications services everywhere, especially in urban areas and in new development areas.

“The ministry makes it clear that telecommunications operators must guarantee the quality of mobile services to consumers in accordance with the terms of their licence.

“Any provision of poor quality mobile service is a dishonest act as stated in the Consumer Protection Act,” it said.

TRC spokesman Im Vutha told The Post on Thursday that to respond to the growing use of mobile phone and internet services, all operators have to invest more quickly in telecommunications infrastructure.

He said internet data download traffic expanded 104 per cent in the first quarter of this year compared to the same period last year, while upload traffic increased more than 92 per cent during the period.

“The Covid-19 problem has led a lot of people to work online, and students to study online, as more people take their businesses to the web, leading to a massive increase in internet usage,” he said.

 

Leading mobile operator Smart Axiata Co Ltd consistently invests $70 to $80 million in capital expenditure (capex) every year primarily for network expansions and enabling advanced mobile technologies, CEO Thomas Hundt told The Post.

As of the end of last year, he said, a total of $1.66 billion in capital and operating expenditure had been invested by Smart to strengthen mobile data leadership in the Kingdom and to expand its 4.5G network to ensure that millions of Cambodians are connected in the best possible way.

“We also commit two per cent of our annual service revenue for service expansions to remote areas of Cambodia through the Universal Service Obligation Fund.

“Our investment commitment remains the same for 2020 as we look forward to introducing 5G in Cambodia. Even further, we have increased our capex investments recently to support the high usage trends and customer expectations during this unprecedented Covid-19 situation.

“We also continue advocating together with the industry for the government to recognise telecommunications infrastructure as a ‘critical public infrastructure’ to elevate the status of telecommunications providers to an ‘essential service’ in the country, leading to faster site rollout, easier right-of-way access at buildings as well as new gated communities and special categorisation when the Kingdom faces crises.

“This, among other measures, will certainly help the industry provide a better quality of services and reduce network congestion at dense usage areas,” he said.

Vutha said the Kingdom’s 4G mobile internet coverage currently covers 53 per cent of its more than 15 million internet users.

State-owned Telecom Cambodia (TC), Cambodia Fibre Optic Communication Network Co Ltd (CFOCN) and Viettel (Cambodia) Pte Ltd have invested in the instalment of more than 44,251km of fibre optic cable in the Kingdom.

Viettel Cambodia is a subsidiary of Viettel Group, the Vietnamese military-owned operator of Cambodian mobile operator Metfone.

Vutha said: “Most of the coverage services, telecommunications operators invest in large commercial areas only, which means a lack of mobile phone service in rural areas and developing areas. We need to invest more in the construction of towers.”