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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Overlapping licences concern private sector

Overlapping licences concern private sector

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A motorbike passes Star Digital TV’s office Wednesday in Phnom Penh. The firm was awarded a broadcasting licence late last month.

Star Digital has become ninth firm licenced on same frequency

STAR Digital TV has been granted a licence to operate on a frequency wavelength already used by up to nine Internet service providers, the Post has learned.

In an announcement carried in local newspapers last week, the company stated that on December 25 it was awarded a US$6,110 licence by the Government to broadcast between 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz.

The document stated the company is set to build a 105-metre tower in Phnom Penh’s Dangkor district to distribute a new TV service.

According to multiple sources working within the telecommunications industry, up to nine other companies are already licensed on the 2.5-2.7GHz bandwidth. Many intended to use the frequency to provide WiMax, a type of wireless Internet service, to the Kingdom.

A legitimate licence is essential for businesses such as mobile phone companies and Internet operators, which need to use the frequency spectrum to supply customers with their services.

Leading businesses affected by the problem include Internet service providers (ISPs) Wireless IP, Chuan Wai and WiCam. The companies are in talks with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPTC) to resolve the issue. The latest meeting took place Wednesday.

An employee of WiCam, who preferred not to be named, told the Post: “WiCam has already been licensed for the frequency 2.575GHz to 2.6GHz. We heard about the new licence from the newspaper and other ISPs concerned.

“Most of the ISPs say they are not happy, not only with the frequency management but also other aspects within the telecoms management. We need more telecoms regulation.”

In an email to the Post on Monday, CEO of Wireless IP Angkeabot Khan confirmed that discussions are ongoing. “We would like to ask the Minister of MPTC and Prime Minister to help us and solve this problem,” he said. “We are investing in Cambodia, helping to give new technology to people, and trying to develop our country.”

Chuan Wei, whose Web site confirms it has a 30MHz licence, declined to comment “pending further discussion with the government to resolve the issue”.

A source working within the Cambodian telecommunications industry, who preferred to remain anonymous, raised concerns about the scale of the licence given to Star Digital TV. Its 200GHz licence is far larger than that of other companies.

The industry expert added: “A licence shouldn’t be taken away from a company unless there are extenuating circumstances; even then they would expect some forewarning and due process.”

When the Post contacted the Phnom Penh office of Star Digital TV on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said that the head of the company was out of the country and wouldn’t return until next week.

No government response
Mao Chakrya, director general of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPTC), refused to discuss the issue over the telephone. Last week, the Post wrote a letter to MPTC asking to discuss the future of WiMax in the Kingdom, but has yet to receive a reply.

However, despite the silence, there are moves to regulate the industry.

On Wednesday, Phnom Penh lawyer Marae Ciantar, of Allens Arthur Robinson, explained that the telecommunications law to regulate the industry is still being developed.

“The law should provide a framework on how to address all kind of issues, such as licensing, frequency and competition,” he said.
It is hoped that the law will be introduced within the next 12 to 18 months, he added.

The process was at the end of last year subject to feedback by the private sector after mobile phone companies in particular raised concerns regarding clauses including those on foreign ownership and infrastructure sharing.

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