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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Law on telecoms stalled at Council of Ministers: official

Law on telecoms stalled at Council of Ministers: official

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090602_15.jpg

Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications says Council has held up draft since it was received two months ago, as private sector bemoans lack of consultation

Photo by: SOVANN PHILONG

The long-awaited telecoms law will aim to address deliberately blocked signals between rival companies, the government said.

AKEY law on telecommunications has stalled at the Council of Ministers, said Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun.

The minister said that the draft law was completed two months ago, but has been held up for no apparent reason.

"I don't know why the process is so slow ... it depends on the Council of Ministers," said So Khun. "But I don't think it should take long because it went through a National Assembly commission once already. It just needs some small changes.

"Once we have the telecoms law in place, the situation will be better than it is now," said So Khun.

The minister added that the law is meant in part to address interconnection problems across networks.

"We hope we can use this law to call for all operators to discuss and cooperate with each other to share equipment and antennas because there are too many in the country now," said So Khun.

Council of Ministers spokesman Phay Siphan said it had not intentionally held up the law, but was consulting with relevant ministries.

We are really disappointed about the slow pace of this law.

"The Council's duty is to consult on all kinds of laws sent from ministries and to coordinate inter-ministry meetings to make sure the law is in harmony with all ministries involved," he said.

He added that the council would also hold a plenary meeting, but that the law would not be halted.

A UN Development Programme discussion paper released last month said that the ICT sector had no clear legal framework and that mobile providers had been blocking incoming calls from competing networks.

Ken Chanthan, president of the Information and Communication Technology Association of Cambodia, said the country is open to newcomers, and that regulation had to be tightened to ensure more competition.

"If we don't have an IT and telecoms law and a clear policy, we won't be able to develop the sector," Ken Chanthan said. "This law is really important because it can pave the way for future development by encouraging more investment, ensuring transparency and promoting fair competition."

"We have been drafting the IT and telecoms law for many years," said Ken Chanthan. "We are really disappointed about the slow pace of this law - especially because we have not been updated with the latest information."

Networks Hello and qb were unavailable for comment Monday.

Minister So Khun said the new law would not result in higher government revenues because a sufficient number of companies were already in the market.

The UNDP discussion paper said that the ICT sector had been growing rapidly at more than 32 percent per year over the past five years.

There has been little transparency in ICT licensing, according to a private sector working group. The country has more than 4.3 million mobile-phone users and about 18,000 internet users. 

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