Two new businesses specializing in public access to the Internet have opened recently—a sign of growing interest in the medium, according to one expert.
“We’re happy to see more people using the Internet in Cambodia, but in reality, it’s a small market,” said Bill Herod, coordinator of the Cambodia Information Project and an adviser to the Public Internet Center.
Internet use in Cambodia is growing dramatically, he said.
Phnom Penh now has four so-called “Internet cafes” with similar prices but varying hours and equipment.
The concept began in the US with restaurants serving food, drinks and Internet access. The “cafe” part of the concept, however, has not caught on here.
Lidee Khmer, a local NGO, has run the free Public Internet Center at No 5, St 53 for Cambodians since May 1997. Foreigners wishing to use the center pay $10 an hour, which helps subsidize the center. Cambodians can sign up for free lessons on how to use the Internet.
The Public Internet Center@FCCC (The Foreign Correspondents Club) is an offshoot of Lidee Khmer’s center, but it is run strictly as a business, Herod said, adding that any profits will go toward subsidizing free access for Cambodians.
Internet access is $10 an hour, and $1 for every e-mail message sent, according to Kim San, an employee of the center. Receiving e-mail is free.
The center has one computer for the Internet, two work stations and a scanner. Users can also have a private e-mail address for $10 a month. Hours are 2 pm to 10 pm.
About 20 customers have visited per day since it opened May 16, he said.
The newly opened KU Internet Access Services at 200 Norodom Blvd has four computers for Internet access and will add three more by the middle of the month, according to general manager Horn Lenna. Internet access is $10 an hour and e-mail ranges from $0.50 to $1, depending on whether the message is typed there or brought in on disk. Hours are 6:30 am to 7 pm.
Horn Lenna said high telecommunications rates influenced the decision to open the center.
“Because we’re also a travel agency, a lot of our foreign customers complained about the high price of making phone calls. They would rather use e-mail or the Internet,” she said.
About six customers a day, all foreigners, have used the service since it opened in late May, she said.
The fourth sight for surfing the Internet is Casablanca’s Internet Cafe, which does serve food and drinks. It is open from 6:30 to 9:30 pm. Access to the Internet costs $12 an hour. It’s located at the corner of 84 and France streets.