The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications is concerned about the loss of income and the threat to national security caused by illegal long-distance gateway operators that have set up shop in neighboring countries, an official said on March 2.
Speaking at a conference in Phnom Penh, Sarak Khan, secretary of state in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, said that Telecom Cambodia’s Gateway 001 alone has lost $5 to $6 million dollars in income in 2006 due to illegal long distance providers.
“This problem has lost us a huge income,” he said.
The illegal international gateways often operate along the border of neighboring countries so there is little that can be done to stop them in Cambodia, he added.
Nhiek Kosal Vichea, director general for Telecom Cambodia, explained that companies not authorized by the government, set up illegal networks and then strike deals with long-distance providers in other countries.
Callers from overseas are then processed through the illegal networks, which bypass 001, and the illegal gateway operators collect money from the oversea providers.
Sarak Khan added that terrorists could take advantage of the illegal gateways because it is impossible for the ministry to monitor the numbers being used.
“When they phone outside our nation’s standard coverage area, we can’t control it,” he said.
Cambodia currently has only two legal international gateways, TC’s Gateway 001 and MobiTel’s Tele2 007, Sarak Khan said, adding that all other gateways are illegal.
Kith Meng, chairman of the Royal Group, which controls MobiTel, declined on March 2 to comment on the illegal gateways’ affect on Tele2.
(Additional reporting by James Welsh.)