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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Fibre-optic cable links region's data networks

Fibre-optic cable links region's data networks

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Telecom Cambodia Director General Lao Sarouen speaks at Wednesday’s inauguration.

Laos connection completes first phase of infrastructure project to allow regional telecoms to provide next-generation services.

THE initial three-year phase of a huge IT project to build a telecoms network linking Cambodia with the region was completed when the fibre-optic cable to Laos was officially inaugurated on Wednesday. The laying of the cable was finalised last month.

Lao Saroeun, the director general of Telecom Cambodia (TC), the government telephone company, said more access points would be built along the new line, which has a transmission speed of 620 megabits per second.

Lao Saroeun said the completed line links the six countries of the Greater Mekong Subregion (GMS) - Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand - and that the fibre-optic network now covers two-thirds of Cambodia.

"Telecom Cambodia hopes to continue developing other high-speed information links, including the Internet, using optical fibre ... and landlines on the existing network to efficiently provide Internet services," he said.

The 650 kilometres of fibre-optic cable runs from Siem Reap to Kampong Cham, and from there east to Memot and north to the Laos border via Kratie and Stung Treng. At Siem Reap it links with an existing cable that runs from Vietnam through Phnom Penh and south of the Tonle Sap to Siem Reap and the Thai border at Poipet.

The project - known as the GMS Information Superhighway - has been managed and run by TC and Huawei Technologies, a Chinese IT company.

Lao Saroeun said that now the fibre-optic network is in place, the project will upgrade 11 network stations and build 15 new stations to connect with the existing national network.

Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun told attendees that the GMS project would help improve access to communications technology.

"The government is taking significant steps to build the ICT infrastructure, especially optical fibre, which is key to helping Cambodia catch up with opportunities using the next generation of telecommunications," he said.

So Khun said that other than the Telecom Cambodia, three more companies are currently improving the nation's telecommunications network.

They are China-based Cambodian Fiber Optic Communications Network Co, a local firm called Telcotech and Viettel from Vietnam.

The Chinese firm has built more than 2,200 kilometres of a projected 8,600 kilometres of underground fibre-optic cable in a five-year project that began in 2007. Telcotech is building an undersea cable, while Viettel has constructed more than 1,000 kilometres of land-based fibre-optic cable.

"The government will continue investing in and developing this backbone infrastructure to improve ICT sector, especially high-quality fibre-optic cables," said So Khun. "This will also contribute to the development of rural ICT."

Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon told delegates that the GMS project was initiated by China in its July 2005 Kunming Declaration and would cost around US$66 million.

He said the project had three phases: The first was to build a fibre-optic network for the six GMS countries - this stage is now complete. The next phase is to upgrade the first phase and build a high-speed ring network between the GMS nations to help further develop their economies. The final step will connect all public services in Cambodia such as government, education and health.

"The GMS project will help strengthen cooperation between people and the GMS countries and will boost Cambodia's economy and the regional economy," Keat Chhon said. "It will also help Cambodia improve its ICT standard in the near future."

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