MobiTel Introduces Modified 3G Phone Network Network

Cambodia’s leading mobile telephone network MobiTel launched the country’s first, though modified, 3G mobile telephone network Fri­day, company and government officials said.

While 3G’s biggest draw, the vi­deo phone feature—which Prime Min­ister Hun Sen banned earlier this year—has been disabled, subscribers to the MobiTel service will be able to watch real-time broadcasts of television and have access to a fast Internet connection.

MobiTel General Manager Da­vid Spriggs said that five television channels are currently on offer with the 3G service: CTN, CTN In­ter­national, Bayon TV, ESPN sports network and CNBC financial news. Later this year, MobiTel plans to offer a sixth “lifestyle” channel mixing content from diverse source like Reuters news services and Fashion TV.

“We had to look at the technology and see if the video phone feature could be disabled and we had to change our marketing…now we are the only service offering 3G in Cambodia,” Spriggs said. “If and when video phones become acceptable again, the feature can be enabled,” he said.

Video phones were banned by Hun Sen in May after wives of senior officials, including his own wife, signed a petition saying they were concerned the video technology would be used to send pornography.

At the time, MobiTel officials said they were considering suspending the rollout of 3G, on which they had spent $10 million.

Posts and Telecommunications Minister So Khun said Monday that the ban on video phones will remain in effect but that all other features of 3G are permitted.

“TV on 3G will not be affected by the government order,” he said.

Mao Charkya, a technical officer at Telecom Cambodia, the government joint venture land-line company, said that television has been permitted on the MobiTel service because the government already blocks pornography from television broadcasts.

CamGSM, which operates un­der the trade name MobiTel, is jointly owned by the Royal Group and headed by Phnom Penh Chamber of Com­merce President Kith Meng and Millicom International, a Lu­xem­bourg-based corporation. CTN is also owned by the Royal Group.

 

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