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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Delayed underwater cable project resurfaces

Delayed underwater cable project resurfaces

Internet provider Ezecom said it would help build the Kingdom’s first undersea communications cable, a long-delayed project that was originally announced in 2013 and slated for completion at the end of last year.

The construction of the Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand cable will “bring faster, more affordable broadband to the people of Cambodia and connect the country to the rest of the world like never before”, a company statement released yesterday reads.

The contract is to be signed through Ezecom-owned group Telcotech with Telkom Malaysia and Thailand’s Symphony Communication on Monday.

Ezecom CEO Paul Blanche-Horgan said that the delay in constructing the cable was due to negotiations with other companies, along with obtaining permission to build landing stations to accommodate the cable.

“It just takes time,” he said.

According to Blanche-Horgan, once the contract is signed on Monday, the cable will be finished in about 16 months.

“They’ll start making the cable and start building quite soon.”

Blanche-Horgan said it wasn’t only Ezecom customers set to benefit from the fast connection, as the firm plans to sell the high-speed internet wholesale to the Cambodian market.

In June of 2013, a memorandum of understanding was signed between Ezecom and Telkom Malaysia to build the undersea cable. A Thai partner was slated to be found by end 2013.

At the time, the deal was cited as being worth $80 million. However, Blanche-Horgan declined to say if that number had changed.

The planned 1,425-kilometre line will connect Cambodia to Malaysia, passing through Thailand on the way. Once in Malaysia, it will hook up to the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), a 20,000-kilometre cable connecting Southeast Asia to the United States.

Ezecom’s acquisition of Telcotech in 2011 enabled it to link up to the AAG, as Telcotech was AAG’s only Cambodian member.

High-speed internet is lacking in Cambodia, as it is not directly connected to the AAG and must rely on Thailand or Vietnam for its connectivity.

According to a recent survey from Seattle-based firm Ookla, Cambodia had the third-slowest internet in Southeast Asia.

Cambodia ranked above Laos and Myanmar, but was still 110th worldwide with an average download speed of 9 megabits per second.

Neighbours Thailand and Vietnam had speeds of 19.9 and 17.6 megabits per second, respectively.

The survey reported that Ezecom’s average speed ranked eighth out of the 20 largest internet service providers in Cambodia, with an average download speed of 7.17 megabits per second, below the national average.

Blanche-Horgan disputed the finding.

“I don’t know where these people get a hold of those figures,” he said. “We’ve got customers that are using 5 gigabytes.”

But Ezecom’s plan to link Cambodia to a major international cable is not alone.

A rival project was announced in June of 2014 by Japanese firm NTT, which said it would link Cambodia to the Japan-based Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE) network. NTT said the ASE would be the first cable to connect directly with Cambodia, although it did not give a completion date to its project.

NTT could not be reached for comment yesterday.

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