Provinces plagued by slow internet connections are closer to getting high-speed web access and better 4G service as Cambodia’s first underwater internet cable enters its final stage of construction.
Internet provider Ezecom—one of three partners in the $70 million, 1,300 km Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand connection cable (MCT) —said at a press conference on Tuesday that landing stations had been completed in all three countries, though plans for the cable to be operational have been pushed back by a few months.
After first being announced by Ezecom in 2013 with a goal to launch by the end of 2014, an agreement to build the cable was finally signed in May last year between Ezecom, Thailand’s Symphony Communication and Malaysia’s Telekom Malaysia. The launch date further slipped from earlier plans to have the cable operational by the end of this year.
Yves Schaeffer, Ezecom’s chief executive, said the connection was now expected to go live early next year, and would “cement Cambodia’s ICT future” by reducing reliance on foreign conduits, expanding internet access and improving connectivity.
Prakash Velayudhan, Ezecom’s chief technology officer, said it was difficult to estimate exactly how much internet speeds would increase or prices decrease, but was confident that the cable would benefit consumers.
“Two years ago, you were afraid to watch video footage on the internet because it cost a lot. Today, you’re happy to watch the video on the internet, on YouTube, because it doesn’t cost you anything more,” Mr. Velayudhan said. “Tomorrow, maybe you’ll want to do additional activities.”
Moa Chakrya, chairman of the state-run Telecommunication Regulator Cambodia, said the new submarine cable would boost 4G connections in parts of the country where they were still limited.
“As we see now when we use 4G, the download is still unstable because we rely on other countries,” Mr. Chakrya said. “The MCT cable will provide high speeds, making our 4G access complete.”
The cable will also extend high-speed internet—currently available only in certain provinces—across the whole country, he said, adding that the connection could also be shared with landlocked Laos and the overburdened networks of Thailand and Vietnam.
Two separate submarine internet cable projects for Cambodia have also been announced since 2014, with both looking to extend existing cables passing through Southeast Asia into Cambodia. Currently, many internet service providers lease connections from Vietnam.