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Largest ISP expects to double data growth

Paul Blanche 01

Cambodia’s largest internet service provider, with 180 employees and 8,500 kilometres of fibre nationwide, intends to become a regional player, eventually connecting to Myanmar.

Ezecom group CEO Paul Blanche-Horgan says he intends to get a submarine cable during the next two years to expand Cambodia’s internet data capacity.

“My intention is to get a submarine cable in here because of data and hand held devices – it is all back haul and international connectivity” he said.

He said this year Cambodia’s data load would double and would triple in 2014.

Blanche-Horgan says Ezecom will turn into a regional player for Indochina and Thailand “and we hopefully will be connecting to Myanmar,” he said.

“We have agreements with some of the major operators in this region for transit for traffic from Thailand to Hong Kong, Singapore and vice versa. We are expanding our fibre network in Cambodia by another 2,000 kilometres,” he said.

“I do believe that Cambodia data services are certainly are as good as any other services in the region.”

The major mobile operators in Cambodia are Ezecom’s customers.

“All the operators we supply are growing at the same sort of rate, which is expanding all the time and that is due to devices becoming cheaper, as well as dependence on internet.”

Blanche-Horgan first arrived in Cambodia as country manager for Australian telecom company Telstra.

Staying on in Cambodia, he became the first to introduce DSL into the market place in 1999, the first serious broadband services in Cambodia.

Ezecom was started five years ago and a key component has been the construction of an underground fibre network. Relatively small and light weight, fibre is capable of carrying vast amounts of data.

While primarily a backbone provider to other carriers, Ezecom also has retail and business packages starting at $39 per month for home fibre.

“Most of our retail customers are in the $80 or $90 per month range,” he said.

Blanche-Horgan said Ezecom made the decision to be a wholesale internet service provider more than four years ago.

“There are so many players trying to take market share, which is the same in the mobile market,” he said. “We are wholesale but we also have a retail customer base. Some of our corporate customers can have from 100 to 200 megabytes.”

As far as developments in the regulatory sector, Blanche-Horgan welcomed the presence of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications’ new regulator.

“It is a good thing that MPTC has a regulator now because in the past we didn’t have one. They will hopefully steer the industry for the best for Cambodia rather than individual short term gain.”

A key to Ezecom’s success, he said, was investing everything they’ve made back into the network.

“We’ve invested a lot of money back into our network and we are opening two new offices, one at the Thai border in Poi Pet and one at the Vietnam border in Bavet,” he said.

Ezecom, which employs 180 people, is experiencing rapid growth in Cambodia’s provinces.

“We are seeing the provincial market is becoming more and more important. We also back haul for mobile operators, and they are expanding out to the provinces,” he said.

People can go to the company’s website at www.ezecom.com.kh, click on “traffic cameras” and monitor live traffic situations around the city.

“You can look on our website and find out what’s going on.”

The traffic cameras are one of many community services provided by Ezecom. Another is an ongoing commitment to education.

“The Ministry of Education picks the schools and the connection goes back to the ministry,” Blanche-Horgan said.

“The idea is for e-learning, and there’s a shortage of teachers, and we think it certainly helps.”

He said he would like to go to major donors and connect five hundred Cambodian schools in the next two years.

“We’ve got fibre everywhere, and in some ways we’re ahead of other countries in the region. We will be doing something with the major agencies in the next month or two, to show them what we’ve done and ask them if they want to help.”

Blanche-Horgan said it didn’t cost much to connect schools with 1.5 to two megabytes, and the return on education for young Cambodians was well worth it.

Ezecom will be looking for donors of equipment in the coming months to support education programs aimed at equipping and training teachers for an initial 50 schools.

“We really need partners,” said Ezecom’s Marketing Manager Inge Olde Rikkert. “It is so large already and we can’t fund it all alone.”

Ezecom is a shareholder in the Kuala Lumpur based American Asian Gateway, which moves internet traffic, throughout the world.

“Our idea when we started five years ago was that owning your own network was the way to go,” he said.

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