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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - New Cellular Circuitry Comes to Cambodia

New Cellular Circuitry Comes to Cambodia

Global Telecom Web Ends Cambodia's Isolation

that is currently in place and is being installed in cooperation with the UNTAC Force

Communications Unit.

The winners of a previous contract for a commercial cellular service, awarded to

a joint venture formed between Thai firms, Fuldaa Co., Ltd., and Shinawatra Computers

and Communications, eventually decided against making the investment after marketing

surveys proved disappointing.

This has not deterred another Thai firm, Samart Satcom Co., Ltd, which plans to launch

a second cellular service shortly, but with slightly cheaper handsets, using technology

from the Finnish company Nokia.

Samart company flyers, passed out to all entering the Floating Hotel the same evening

as the CAMTel reception, suggests there may soon be some healthy competition in this

sector-the spillover from Bangkok-based rivalry.

Samart Satcom Co., Ltd. is a young Thai firm who first business is selling satellite

dishes for televisions, a commodity it is now also peddling in Cambodia.

In posters appearing around town, the Cambodia subsidiary-Cambodia Samart Communications

Co., Ltd.-coyly announces it is "ready to let you order" a cellular telephone

service which it implies is already in place-not just in the capital but in Kompong

Som, Siem Reap, and Battambang.

One Japanese journalist who has ordered two cellular phones reports he has been told

not to expect the service until the end of November.

As an enticement to order now, Samart is offering a "special discount"

of U.S. $900 to U.S. $1,600 for a satellite receiving dish, if the phone service

is ordered the same day.

Nokia provides the technology for one of Thailand's three cellular phone systems;

Motorola, the American firm provides for the other two services, one offered by the

state communications authority, the other by a private company.

The quality of service on Cambodia's system will, for some time, be superior to that

available in Bangkok (which has the same technology) because there are far fewer

handsets, or customers, using limited lines.

The systems in Bangkok are overwhelmed by handsets clogging switching equipment which

has not expanded as rapidly to maintain the quality of service-defined as the success

rate of attempted calls. In Cambodia "it should be 95 [percent]," vowed

Vimolvanich , a U.S.-trained engineer. "We have designed our system that way."

At the end of October CAMTel reported having 118 customers for 120 channels-meaning

each enjoys their own line.

A Phnom Penh Post visit to the CAMTel sales office at the Floating Hotel encountered

Leonid Gontcharov, a former employee of the Soviet Union who has stayed with his

wife to do business here.

"Around town there is no problem, but Moscow: how do I call Moscow?" he

asked as he turned to the staff for assistance.

Orange Phone Booths

Prior to winning the multi-billion dollar Bangkok phone project, CP Group, a politically

well-connected Sino-Thai firm, had no telecommunications experience. It has teamed

up with two American firms to provide technical expertise, NYNEX, a "Baby Bell"

company serving New York and New England in the U.S., has a 25-year "strategic

partnership" with CP in the Bangkok project, while Motorola has a roughly $U.S.

2 million contract to provide equipment and support for the Cambodia cellular project.

After an initial, and highly successful marketing trial of pay phones, OTC is talking

with Cambodian authorities to get a proper contract that would result in a significant

increase in the orange phone booths that use phone cards. The biggest card buyers

have been lovesick UNTAC soldiers who are not allowed to use their office phones,

says a company source.

An additional 30 pay phones could be installed right away in Phnom Penh, with most

of those located near UNTAC concentrations. These are the likely favored locations

for phones that may also be set up in the provinces. Hotels and restaurants are also

clamoring for their share.

Calls through the cellular service, like all others, use the international gateway

provided by OTC. Currently these are all routed through the Australia international

network via the earth station at Ceduna, before going elsewhere.

But at the end of the year, or early 1993, OTC will have secured additional satellite

time to direct the calls to a number of destinations, rather than through Australia

first. This should put additional pressure on DPT-which alone in Cambodia is responsible

for setting and collecting revenues on domestic and international calls-to lower

their own rates, now among the highest in the world.

Numerous quarters have been encouraging DPT to lower its prices. "As traffic

grows it is good to drop your prices because it encourages even more people to call

and to talk longer," says one of those involved. "But it's a very sore

point because it should have happened years ago."

DPT rates used to favor communications with fraternal socialist countries.

The same kind of argument regarding the benefits of collect calls is reportedly gradually

sinking in with DPT officials. Telecommunications experts with experience in Vietnam

say authorities there quickly realized its large overseas community could afford

to pay for collect calls from family still in country, increasing traffic and revenue

for all and more than making up for the revenues lost from calls that otherwise would

have been paid in-country.

Meanwhile OTC is completing its $U.S. 30 million contract to provide a comprehensive

telecommunications system for UNTAC.

The private U.N. network will not carry public traffic although it will be connected

to the public network in Phnom Penh.

Operating from some 185 locations, in 54 provincial and district sites, the network

will be hubbed with the UNTAC headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Besides increasing satellite circuitry for telephone, the installation of an INTESAT

(Standard A) earth station will be able to handle high-quality T.V. transmissions.

When OTC has finished installing all facilities required by its contract-and then

some-Cambodia will have the capacity for meeting its telecommunications demands beyond

the year 2,000.

Two years ago, calling overseas from Cambodia required hours of patience, waiting

for an operator to book a call via Moscow or Hanoi through precious few international

circuits.

Now you can ring up family back home, friends or even, say, your stockbroker by simply

punching in a few digits on a cellular handset by the proverbial poolside-and your

chances of getting through are better than if you were trying to call from Bangkok.

But for those not quite able to shell out the U.S. $1,000 to $2,000 for a mobile

phone (in addition to the other charges incurred-see table on page 11) other communications

improvements on the horizon will soon bring Cambodia even further into the mainstream.

These include the imminent tripling of the number of pay phones (currently 15), the

introduction of collect calls, the publication of a telephone directory and eventually

the reduction of Cambodia's stratospheric international tariff rates.

Aside from new enhancements of UNTAC's own internal communications systems, improvements

on the domestic front will be a longer time coming, with no real changes expected

until post-election rehabilitation gets into swing with foreign assistance.

Current fixed line (non-cellular) subscribers, though, will soon be offered the chance

to swap their domestic lines for IDD (international direct dialing) lines to take

up the additional capacity created by OTC Australia, the firm that has a 10-year

contract to develop and operate Cambodia's international telecom gateway.

Cambodia's new cellular systems-provided by Cambodia Mobile Telephone Co., Ltd (CAMTel)-is

a joint venture between the State of Cambodia's Directorate of Posts and Telecommunications

(DPT) and the telecommunications unit of the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, a Thai

agro-industrial-based conglomerate.

The Thai investors hold 70 percent in the joint venture which has an initial investment

of U.S. $4 million. With no money up front, DPT holds the balance. State of Cambodia

officials declined to say what revenue sharing formula had been agreed to.

The service-available since mid-October-was formally launched at a company reception

held at Phnom Penh's Floating Hotel on Oct. 29.

This was the same day the CP Group's Telecom Asia, Inc., opened the first few thousand

lines on its 2 million telephone line project in Bangkok, a fact to which Thai company

officials appeared to attach some symbolic importance.

"If you buy one of our handsets you dial out right now, not just to other fixed

land lines here but to any other phone in the world," said Dr. Vallobh Vimolvanich,

president of the holding company overseeing the Cambodia project.

Competition May Cut Costs

The system is a standard AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) that will initially

have 120 channels, which Dr. Vallobh said could easily handle 5,000 customers. Current

coverage includes the airport, but will go about 10 kilometers beyond that once a

repeater (additional tower) is installed there.

Vimolvanich said he expected to have 5,000 customers within one year, an expectation

that may prove somewhat optimistic.

Officials had said they expected UNTAC would be an important part of their market

but their needs are largely being taken care of by OTC, which since July has provided

a cellular service to the blue berets and is also in the process of setting up a

country-wide, satellite-based service for UNTAC use.

This service will take over from the limited military-based service that is currently

in place and is being installed in cooperation with UNTAC's Communica-tionUnit.

The winners of a previous contract for a commercial cellular service, awarded to

a joint venture formed between Thai firms, Fuldaa Co., Ltd., and Shinawatra Computers

and Communications, eventually decided against making the investment after marketing

surveys proved disappointing.

This has not deterred another Thai firm, Samart Satcom Co., Ltd, which plans to launch

a second cellular service shortly, but with slightly cheaper handsets, using technology

from the Finnish company Nokia.

Samart company flyers, passed out to all entering the Floating Hotel the same evening

as the CAMTel reception, suggests there may soon be some healthy competition in this

sector-the spillover from a Bangkok-based rivalry.

Samart Satcom Co., Ltd. is a young Thai firm whose first business is selling satellite

dishes for televisions, a commodity it is now also peddling in Cambodia.

In posters appearing around town, the Cambodia subsidiary-Cambodia Samart Communications

Co., Ltd.-coyly announces it is "ready to let you order" a cellular telephone

service which it implies is already in place-not just in the capital but in Kompong

Som, Siem Reap, and Battambang.

One Japanese journalist who has ordered two cellular phones reports he has been told

not to expect the service until the end of November.

As an enticement to order now, Samart is offering a "special discount"

of U.S. $900 to U.S. $1,600 for a satellite receiving dish, if the phone service

is ordered the same day.

Nokia provides the technology for one of Thailand's three cellular phone systems;

Motorola, the American firm provides for the other two services, one offered by the

state communications authority, the other by a private company.

The quality of service on Cambodia's system will, for some time, be superior to that

available in Bangkok (which has the same technology) because there are far fewer

handsets, or customers, using limited lines.

The systems in Bangkok are overwhelmed by handsets clogging switching equipment which

has not expanded as rapidly to maintain the quality of service-defined as the success

rate of attempted calls. In Cambodia "it should be 95 [percent]," vowed

Vimolvanich , a U.S.-trained engineer. "We have designed our system that way."

At the end of October CAMTel reported having 118 customers for 120 channels-meaning

each enjoys their own line.

A Phnom Penh Post visit to the CAMTel sales office at the Floating Hotel encountered

Leonid Gontcharov, a former employee of the Soviet Union who has stayed with his

wife to do business here.

"Around town there is no problem, but Moscow: how do I call Moscow?" he

asked as he turned to the staff for assistance.

Orange Phone Booths

Prior to winning the multi-billion dollar Bangkok phone project, CP Group, a politically

well-connected Sino-Thai firm, had no telecommunications experience. It has teamed

up with two American firms to provide technical expertise: NYNEX, a "Baby Bell"

company serving New York and New England in the U.S., has a 25-year "strategic

partnership" with CP in the Bangkok project, while Motorola has a roughly $U.S.

2 million contract to provide equipment and support for the Cambodia cellular project.

After an initial, and highly successful marketing trial of pay phones, OTC is talking

with Cambodian authorities to get a proper contract that would result in a significant

increase in the orange phone booths that use phone cards. The biggest card buyers

have been lovesick UNTAC soldiers who are not allowed to use their office phones,

says a company source.

An additional 30 pay phones could be installed right away in Phnom Penh, with most

of those located near UNTAC concentrations. These are the likely favored locations

for phones that may also be set up in the provinces. Hotels and restaurants are also

clamoring for their share.

Calls through the cellular service, like all others, use the international gateway

provided by OTC. Currently these are all routed through the Australia international

network via the earth station at Ceduna, before going elsewhere.

But by the end of the year, or early 1993, OTC will have secured additional satellite

time to direct the calls to a number of destinations, rather than through Australia

first.

This should put additional pressure on DPT-which alone in Cambodia is responsible

for setting and collecting revenues on domestic and international calls-to lower

their own rates, now among the highest in the world.

Numerous quarters have been encouraging DPT to lower its prices. "As traffic

grows it is good to drop your prices because it encourages even more people to call

and to talk longer," says one of those involved. "But it's a very sore

point because it should have happened years ago."

DPT rates used to favor communications with fraternal socialist countries.

The same kind of argument regarding the benefits of collect calls is reportedly gradually

sinking in with DPT officials. Telecommunications experts with experience in Vietnam

say authorities there quickly realized its large overseas community could afford

to pay for collect calls from family still in the country, increasing traffic and

revenue for all and more than making up for the revenues lost from calls that otherwise

would have been paid in-country.

Meanwhile OTC is completing its $U.S. 30 million contract to provide a comprehensive

telecommunications system for UNTAC.

The private U.N. network will not carry public traffic although it will be connected

to the public network in Phnom Penh.

Operating from some 185 locations, in 54 provincial and district sites, the network

will be hubbed with the UNTAC headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Besides increasing satellite circuitry for telephone, an INTESAT (Standard A) earth

station will be able to handle high-quality T.V. transmissions.

When OTC has finished installing all facilities required by its contract-and then

some-Cambodia will have the capacity for meeting its telecommunications demands beyond

the year 2000.

Two years ago, calling overseas from Cambodia required hours of patience, waiting

for an operator to book a call via Moscow or Hanoi through precious few international

circuits.

Now you can ring up family back home, friends or even, say, your stockbroker by simply

punching in a few digits on a cellular handset by the proverbial poolside-and your

chances of getting through are better than if you were trying to call from Bangkok.

But for those not quite able to shell out the U.S. $1,000 to $2,000 for a mobile

phone (in addition to the other charges incurred-see table on page 11) other communications

improvements on the horizon will soon bring Cambodia even further into the mainstream.

These include the imminent tripling of the number of pay phones (currently 15), the

introduction of collect calls, the publication of a telephone directory and eventually

the reduction of Cambodia's stratospheric international tariff rates.

Aside from new enhancements of UNTAC's own internal communications systems, improvements

on the domestic front will be a longer time coming, with no real changes expected

until post-election rehabilitation gets into swing with foreign assistance.

Current fixed line (non-cellular) subscribers, though, will soon be offered the

chance to swap their domestic lines for IDD (international direct dialing) lines

to take up the additional capacity created by OTC Australia, the firm that has a

10-year contract to develop and operate Cambodia's international telecom gateway.

Cambodia's new cellular systems-provided by Cambodia Mobile Telephone Co., Ltd (CAMTel)-is

a joint venture between the State of Cambodia's Directorate of Posts and Telecommunications

(DPT) and the telecommunications unit of the Charoen Pokphand (CP) Group, a Thai

agro-industrial-based conglomerate.

The Thai investors hold 70 percent in the joint venture which has an initial investment

of U.S. $4 million. With no money up front, DPT holds the balance. State of Cambodia

officials declined to say what revenue sharing formula had been agreed to.

The service-available since mid-October-was formally launched at a company reception

held at Phnom Penh's Floating Hotel on Oct. 29.

This was the same day the CP Group's Telecom Asia, Inc., opened the first few thousand

lines on its 2 million telephone line project in Bangkok, a fact to which Thai company

officials appeared to attach some symbolic importance.

"If you buy one of our handsets you dial out right now, not just to other fixed

land lines here but to any other phone in the world," said Dr. Vallobh Vimolvanich,

president of the holding company overseeing the Cambodia project.

Competition May Cut Costs

The system is a standard AMPS (Advanced Mobile Phone System) that will initially

have 120 channels, which Dr. Vallobh said could easily handle 5,000 customers. Current

coverage includes the airport, but will go about 10 kilometers beyond that once a

repeater (additional tower) is installed there.

Vimolvanich said he expected to have 5,000 customers within one year, an expectation

that may prove somewhat optimistic.

Officials had said they expected UNTAC would be an important part of their market

but their needs are largely being taken care of by OTC, which since July has provided

a cellular service to the blue berets and is also in the process of setting up a

country-wide, satellite-based service for UNTAC use.

This service will take over from the limited military-based service that is currently

in place and is being installed in cooperation with UNTAC's Communica-tionUnit.

The winners of a previous contract for a commercial cellular service, awarded to

a joint venture formed between Thai firms, Fuldaa Co., Ltd., and Shinawatra Computers

and Communications, eventually decided against making the investment after marketing

surveys proved disappointing.

This has not deterred another Thai firm, Samart Satcom Co., Ltd, which plans to launch

a second cellular service shortly, but with slightly cheaper handsets, using technology

from the Finnish company Nokia.

Samart company flyers, passed out to all entering the Floating Hotel the same evening

as the CAMTel reception, suggests there may soon be some healthy competition in this

sector-the spillover from a Bangkok-based rivalry.

Samart Satcom Co., Ltd. is a young Thai firm whose first business is selling satellite

dishes for televisions, a commodity it is now also peddling in Cambodia.

In posters appearing around town, the Cambodia subsidiary-Cambodia Samart Communications

Co., Ltd.-coyly announces it is "ready to let you order" a cellular telephone

service which it implies is already in place-not just in the capital but in Kompong

Som, Siem Reap, and Battambang.

One Japanese journalist who has ordered two cellular phones reports he has been told

not to expect the service until the end of November.

As an enticement to order now, Samart is offering a "special discount"

of U.S. $900 to U.S. $1,600 for a satellite receiving dish, if the phone service

is ordered the same day.

Nokia provides the technology for one of Thailand's three cellular phone systems;

Motorola, the American firm provides for the other two services, one offered by the

state communications authority, the other by a private company.

The quality of service on Cambodia's system will, for some time, be superior to that

available in Bangkok (which has the same technology) because there are far fewer

handsets, or customers, using limited lines.

The systems in Bangkok are overwhelmed by handsets clogging switching equipment which

has not expanded as rapidly to maintain the quality of service-defined as the success

rate of attempted calls. In Cambodia "it should be 95 [percent]," vowed

Vimolvanich , a U.S.-trained engineer. "We have designed our system that way."

At the end of October CAMTel reported having 118 customers for 120 channels-meaning

each enjoys their own line.

A Phnom Penh Post visit to the CAMTel sales office at the Floating Hotel encountered

Leonid Gontcharov, a former employee of the Soviet Union who has stayed with his

wife to do business here.

"Around town there is no problem, but Moscow: how do I call Moscow?" he

asked as he turned to the staff for assistance.

Orange Phone Booths

Prior to winning the multi-billion dollar Bangkok phone project, CP Group, a politically

well-connected Sino-Thai firm, had no telecommunications experience. It has teamed

up with two American firms to provide technical expertise: NYNEX, a "Baby Bell"

company serving New York and New England in the U.S., has a 25-year "strategic

partnership" with CP in the Bangkok project, while Motorola has a roughly $U.S.

2 million contract to provide equipment and support for the Cambodia cellular project.

After an initial, and highly successful marketing trial of pay phones, OTC is talking

with Cambodian authorities to get a proper contract that would result in a significant

increase in the orange phone booths that use phone cards. The biggest card buyers

have been lovesick UNTAC soldiers who are not allowed to use their office phones,

says a company source.

An additional 30 pay phones could be installed right away in Phnom Penh, with most

of those located near UNTAC concentrations. These are the likely favored locations

for phones that may also be set up in the provinces. Hotels and restaurants are also

clamoring for their share.

Calls through the cellular service, like all others, use the international gateway

provided by OTC. Currently these are all routed through the Australia international

network via the earth station at Ceduna, before going elsewhere.

But by the end of the year, or early 1993, OTC will have secured additional satellite

time to direct the calls to a number of destinations, rather than through Australia

first.

This should put additional pressure on DPT-which alone in Cambodia is responsible

for setting and collecting revenues on domestic and international calls-to lower

their own rates, now among the highest in the world.

Numerous quarters have been encouraging DPT to lower its prices. "As traffic

grows it is good to drop your prices because it encourages even more people to call

and to talk longer," says one of those involved. "But it's a very sore

point because it should have happened years ago."

DPT rates used to favor communications with fraternal socialist countries.

The same kind of argument regarding the benefits of collect calls is reportedly gradually

sinking in with DPT officials. Telecommunications experts with experience in Vietnam

say authorities there quickly realized its large overseas community could afford

to pay for collect calls from family still in the country, increasing traffic and

revenue for all and more than making up for the revenues lost from calls that otherwise

would have been paid in-country.

Meanwhile OTC is completing its $U.S. 30 million contract to provide a comprehensive

telecommunications system for UNTAC.

The private U.N. network will not carry public traffic although it will be connected

to the public network in Phnom Penh.

Operating from some 185 locations, in 54 provincial and district sites, the network

will be hubbed with the UNTAC headquarters in Phnom Penh.

Besides increasing satellite circuitry for telephone, an INTESAT (Standard A) earth

station will be able to handle high-quality T.V. transmissions.

When OTC has finished installing all facilities required by its contract-and then

some-Cambodia will have the capacity for meeting its telecommunications demands beyond

the year 2000.

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