Chinese Firm Joins Crowded Telecom Market

Mobile firm CooTel, a subsidiary of a large Chinese tele­communications corporation, is making plans to enter Cambodia’s oversaturated mobile phone market, officials said.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications granted CooTel’s parent company, Xinwei (Cambodia) Telecom Co. Ltd., an operating license in August 2011 and the firm has already opened an office on Street 169.

Xinwei Cambodia is a subsidiary of Beijing-based conglomerate Xinwei Telecom Enterprise Group, whose chairman is Chinese tycoon Wang Jing. Last month, Mr. Wang announced a highly ambitious $40 billion plan to construct a canal, oil pipeline and two airports in Nicaragua.

“I just received information from the company today, informing me that they will launch operations next month,” said Lay Marivo, deputy director of the Telecom Regulator of Cambodia.

With CooTel’s entry, the number of mobile operators in the country will increase to seven. The move comes after the market has gone through a period of consolidation with some firms choosing to merge or be acquired by another operator.

Little is known about Mr. Wang, but according to the website of H.K. Nicaragua Canal Development Investment Co. Ltd. (HKND Group)—which Mr. Wang heads—he controls more than 20 enterprises that operate businesses in 35 countries.

Reuters reported in June that Mr. Wang claimed to make his initial wealth from a gold mine investment in Cambodia, though the name of the mine and its location are unknown.

CooTel’s technology, known as McWiLL, or Multi-Carrier Wireless Information Local Loop, is a so-called 4G network developed by Xinwei, and its deployment in Cambodia appears to be the company’s first large-scale commercialization of the network outside of China.

“This major achievement will lay solid foundation on Xinwei’s globalization strategies on promotion of its superior wireless broadband technology and solutions to global telecom markets,” Xinwei states on its website.

According to CooTel’s website, McWiLL not only supports telecommunications services, but also “special applications for police, oil and gas fields, mining, railways, airports and sea ports, e-government [and] intelligent transportation.”

Earlier this year, Chinese telecommunications giant Huawei signed a deal to install thousands of transmitters countrywide to create the network for CooTel.

“The completion of this large-size project will enable the 4G signal to reach 90 percent of the Cambodian population,” Huawei said in February.

Using the network will have its limitations, as customers must use CooTel phones and devices.

Pich Chetra, director of marketing for CooTel, declined to answer questions about the firm’s plans in Cambodia.

“At the moment, we have not commercially launched our brand in the market yet. Because of that, we are not able to disclose the information publicly for now,” he said in an email.

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