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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - High price of Internet is still main barrier to domestic use

High price of Internet is still main barrier to domestic use

Survey shows two-thirds of people still find connection costs prohibitively pricey

NO HOME Connection
Rationale for not using Internet in the home among respondents in Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Kampong Cham:

  • 64pc
    Internet service at home is too expensive
  • 55pc
    No computer in the home
  • 36pc
    No need to use at home. Can access elsewhere
  • 31pc
    Have computer at home, but no Internet access
  • 12pc
    Have computer at home, but cannot connect through mobile
  • 10pc
    Have a computer at home, but no landline

Source: Indochina Research

THE high cost of Internet access is a key reason behind Cambodians not connecting to the Web at home, a survey conducted by IndoChina Research (ICR) has found.

A total of 64 percent of Internet users, in ICR’s Cambodia Media Index survey of 1,100 people, said that expense was the main rationale for not connecting to the Internet at home .

The report, which was conducted in December as the second wave of a new study, stated that around 11.7 percent of those surveyed – who all lived within a 25-kilometre radius of Cambodia’s five main urban centres: Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Battambang, Sihanoukville and Kampong Cham – regularly used the Internet at all. This was up from 9.8 percent in the survey’s first wave, which was conducted six months beforehand.

Of those, just 5 percent of the people surveyed said that they used the Internet most often at home. This compares with 70 percent using Internet cafes most regularly, 16 percent using computers at schools or universities and 7 percent utilising their work’s online facilities.

The main reasons for not using the Web at home were cost (64 percent), a lack of computer (55 percent), and a lack of a need for home Internet due to access elsewhere (36 percent).

According to industry experts, who explained the problem to the Post Monday, Internet prices in Cambodia are among the highest in Asia due to the high cost of wholesale connective supply bought by Internet service providers (ISPs) through international fibre-optic cables.

On Monday, Viettel was advertising its SurfHome 128 kbps ADSL line for between US$20 and $50 a month. Camnet charged $80 per month for unlimited use of a 256 kbps ADSL line while EZECOM offered 256kbps ADSL for $39 a month. Most packages see Internet speeds plummet during peak daytime hours.

Vice president of ISP Chuan Wei, Hyam Bolande, said Monday: “The situation today is that there is a limited supply, as the cables are owned by a small number of people. Because demand is greater than supply, the prices are high.

“Most ISPs are paying 50 to 70 percent of total operating cost on international bandwidth, [a cost] which is passed on to customers.”

He said that more young people are using the Internet as they are exposed to technology at school and university, but added: “The problem is that supply is not growing at the same speed.”

Bolande hopes that in years to come increased connections – creating greater supply – and liberalised competition will reduce prices and enable greater numbers of the population to access the resource.

“As Cambodia becomes more developed, in the future we will need to see fibre-optic cables running through Thailand, Laos, and a sub-sea cable through the Gulf of Thailand. Bandwidth is getting faster and cheaper, so road blocks in price here can be and should be removed,” he said.

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