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Not number one, but one to trust

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MekongNet’s Sok Channda is confident about her strengths and weaknesses. She prefers to leave travelling for the job to her male colleagues, as she needs to take care of her family. Photograph: Low Wei Xiang/Phnom Penh Post

Internet usage in Cambodia isn’t cheap, and the government has reportedly censored certain websites. But that hasn’t stopped the number of internet users from surging, spelling hot business for internet service providers (ISPs). MekongNet chief executive Sok Channda spoke to the Post’s Sarah Thust and Low Wei Xiang about what sets her company apart.

How was MekongNet started?

MekongNet, a registered trademark of the Angkor Data Communication Group, was founded in 2006 and is owned by Anana Computer. Anana opened in 1993 as a family business selling IT products. I then began to wonder if we could provide internet services as well, so MekongNet started focusing on end users. But the internet was expensive back then — 1MB of data cost more than US$2000 — because the infrastructure wasn’t good.

Later, we began investing in fibre-optic infrastructure and focused on wholesale and corporate customers so we could negotiate lower prices.

What has MekongNet excelled in?

We are among the leading ISPs in Cambodia investing in fibre-optic infrastructure, whereas the majority are still investing in ADSL services.

We are the first ISP [in Cambodia] to connect directly to the Google server in Hong Kong. We are also a partner of the Asia Pacific Network Information Centre,  allowing us to be the first local operator to host a root name server. These arrangements have improved the speed of the internet connection we offer.

What areas must MekongNet work on?

We have to improve customers’ awareness of how our services are different. Customers sometimes wonder why they pay more for our services because they’re confused about the different types of services offered by ISPs. So they change to the cheaper rates of another ISP, but return after one or two months because we offer higher quality.

We also want to broaden the range of our support services.

You lead MekongNet together with a man. What role do gender issues play in your work environment?

The leadership styles of men and women are different, but I don’t see myself in a deprived position. Men tend to guide their staff in a cold, but effective in the short term, manner, whereas women count on teamwork and a good work environment. That takes more time, though.

About 60 per cent of our employees are female. I’ve noticed that women tend to pay more attention to details, so those on our staff mostly work in customer service, administration, human resources, accounting and finance.

Many of them don’t like to move around often, as they need to take care of their families as well. In contrast, men tend to work in IT or other positions where they can move around.

Where do you see MekongNet in five years?

We can’t say we’ll be number one, but we want to be a company that provides good service to customers who trust us and are loyal to us.

We want to be in a place in the market where we can take care of our own business and customers.

To contact the reporters on this story: Sarah Thust at sarah.thust@phnompenhpost.com
Low Wei Xiang at lowweixiang@live.com

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