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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Satellite set to increase internet access among govt and rural areas

Satellite set to increase internet access among govt and rural areas

Satellite using Israeli technology will offer high-speed internet access in Cambodian areas previously off-limits to the world wide web

A LOCALLY registered company hopes to link Cambodia's government offices with a high-tech satellite communications system that it says will push the Kingdom's public services into the 21st century.

Gateway Communications, which uses Gilat Satellite Networks technology from Israel, launched its service in Cambodia last week at the Banking Cambodia conference, saying it offers compact satellite link-ups for high-speed internet, teleconferencing and video conferencing anywhere in the country.

A lack of fibre-optic cables in rural areas makes high-speed internet and telecommunications difficult.

He said the company is also in talks with NGOs, microfinance institutions and banks. He said the company is also in talks with the Ministry of Health to improve medical services.

Many of Cambodia's rural government offices are equipped with unreliable landline service, making communication with Phnom Penh difficult and slow.

Industry leaders have long pressed for an upgrade of the government's technology.

The technology can be installed

everywhere – even in remote areas.

"The government is the key engine to drive growth in this sector, but ICT is not widely used in administration, and less than 20 percent of private enterprises are using ICT," said Ken Chanthan, president of the ICT Association of Cambodia.

For its part, the government has appointed a 200-strong task force to connect government offices through a central network system and is training 2,000 public servants in IT skills, said Phu Leewood from the National ICT Development Authority.

But Eric Lim, development director of Gateway Communications, said that adopting satellite technology could allow Cambodia to instantly link its government offices without the need for landlines or fibre optics.

"The technology won't become obsolete, even if fibre-optic cables are extended throughout the country. The United States still uses satellite, even though it has fibre optics. Fibre-optic cables can be cut or damaged - satellite service is available 99.9 percent of the time," he said at the conference.

"Technology can make Cambodia jump ahead without waiting for the landline network to be connected. It's cheaper and quicker to deploy," Lim added.

"The technology can be installed everywhere - even in remote areas because it consumes less than 20 watts, which can be used with solar power."

The device is called a Very Small Aperture Terminal, or VSAT, and the company says it is ideally suited for governments in developing countries.

Training courses would also be offered to ministries, said the company.

ADDITIONAL REPORTING by GEORGE MCLEOD

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