The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications yesterday inaugurated 651 kilometers new of new fiber optic cable linking Phnom Penh to Laos and Siem Reap in a ceremony at Telecom Cambodia’s headquarters in the capital.
According to officials from Telecom Cambodia, a state-owned enterprise, the new cables connect the Cambodian capital to a fiber-optic network, built with Chinese financing and under the guidance of China’s IT Ministry, which also runs through Vietnam, Laos and China.
Telecommunications Ministry officials said yesterday that the Great Mekong Sub-region Information Superhighway Project, as the burgeoning network is called, would lower the cost of out-of-country calls within the region and provide faster Internet access for Cambodians.
“China lent us $17 million to complete this project,” said So Khun, minister of posts and telecommunications, adding that the ministry planned to borrow no more that $50 million in order to expand the fiber optic network.
According to Mr Khun, around 46 percent of Cambodians use telephones–99.28 percent of which are mobile telephones. Mr Khun also said that 2.8 percent of Cambodians, a percentage he said represented roughly 300,000 people, regularly use the Internet.
Lao Saroeun, director-general of Telecom Cambodia, said yesterday that the China-based Huawei Technologies Company finished laying the cable a year ago after starting in 2006 but that the inauguration had been delayed for testing.
“Telecommunications infrastructure has given Telecom Cambodia the ability to provide services to customers living in the provinces surrounding the Tonle Sap river and along National Roads 1, 6 and 7,” said Mr Saroeun.
Mr Saroeun claimed that new telecommunications infrastructure would serve to “tighten the long-term cooperation between Cambodia and Laos” and would eventually connect Cambodia with Thailand as well.
In October, the Telecommunications Ministry ordered all of Cambodia’s Internet Service Providers to re-route through a Telecom Cambodia-owned Internet Exchange Point, prompting NGOs to voice concerns for potential Internet censorship and monitoring. The ministry announced in April it no longer planned to proceed with the project.