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Better internet for Cambodia

Yves Schaeffer, CEO of Ezecom, talks to the Post at his office in Phnom Penh late last week.
Yves Schaeffer, CEO of Ezecom, talks to the Post at his office in Phnom Penh late last week. Pha Lina

Better internet for Cambodia

Ezecom subsidiary Telcotech is expected to finish building and deploying Cambodia’s first undersea fibre-optic cable in early 2017, connecting to the Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable from a landing point in Sihanoukville. The Post’s Matthieu de Gaudemar sat down with Ezecom CEO Yves Schaeffer to discuss how the cable will improve internet services in the Kingdom and affect the local ISP market.

How will the new MCT cable benefit Cambodia?

The MCT cable will connect Cambodia with Singapore and Hong Kong through Malaysia. We will also be able to reach the whole world by connecting to other submarine cables.

Locally, mobile operators and ISPs have bigger needs for growth, which we can satisfy through the increased bandwidth from the cable. We will also be able to sell capacity to local players for their international communications and overall communications will be much more secure.

How will this cable allow Ezecom to grow and improve its services?

The cable will help Ezecom because we will be able to negotiate better pricing locally as the costs for the bandwidth itself will be lower. Our own costs will decrease and this will help us make improvements and investments to deploy a much better network with better quality. We will also be able to increase our wholesale business on the international level.

What impact will the cable have on the local market?

There will be lower pricing for the bandwidth itself but the investment that is required to run a network is still very high. Costs for local-market players are not only linked to the bandwidth but also the infrastructure like fibre-optic cables. Technical infrastructure for an ISP remains a cost that needs to be optimised by each and every one of the ISPs.

Do local internet service providers (ISPs) need to update their technology to maximise the quality of their services?

The MCT cable will provide more high-quality bandwidth and improve latencies a lot because now the connection is no longer terrestrial.

Security-wise, it is much better for local ISPs also, but it is up to each ISP to improve their infrastructure to the right levels. If nobody does anything in terms of their own quality, there will be no substantially better results for the customer.

Do you expect fixed-line subscriptions will increase?

I think they will increase because today we are seeing that more and more people have increasing internet needs at their homes. People are starting to connect their TVs or different equipment and are no longer just accessing data on their mobile.

Today the market is quite limited in terms of penetration, but I think that in the coming five years with the improvement of network access and price, that market will grow. Coverage needs to be nationwide as today it is more limited to the big towns.

What is the potential for companies and internet providers to connect with Cambodia?

Cambodia was always lagging a little bit behind regionally in terms of technology, but now by bringing the MCT cable we are showing that Cambodia is able to implement top-tier technology. You have groups like Amazon, Google, and these types of players who are starting to look at Southeast Asia to build their data or hosting centres.

By building a high-capacity submarine cable we will show the world that the ICT industry is moving in the right direction in this country and we will also improve Cambodia’s connection to the rest of the world.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

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