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Govt axes Internet monopoly plan

Govt axes Internet monopoly plan

Source at MPTC meeting says minister ruled out scheme to create state-run Internet hub.

THE Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) has axed plans to create a state-run hub for all Internet connections in Cambodia, according to an attendee of a crunch meeting held late Monday.

Minster of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun told a dozen business representatives the ministry will not compel Cambodian companies to use a central Domestic Internet Exchange (DIX), the attendee said.

Instead, the source said, So Khun told the representatives and about 30 MPTC officials that Internet connections can be routed through any exchange that Internet service providers (ISPs) see fit.

“We are pleased and relieved,” said the source, a member of the private sector who requested anonymity late Monday. “It seems our worst fears are not going to happen.”

“This was coming from the minister himself,” the source said. “It is very good news.”

MPTC had wanted to charge private companies to route all domestic traffic through a monopoly managed by the state-run Telecom Cambodia (TC), a move that private interests worried had the potential to crush the burgeoning sector.

Leading businessmen have voiced fears over the last two months that centralising the Kingdom’s Web provision could put US$500 million worth of infrastructure at risk, hand control of connectivity pricing to the state, stymie international investment and effectively end the Kingdom’s open ICT market.

Private sector representatives have said the plan may have been suggested to shore up TC finances ahead of the opening of Cambodia’s securities exchange, a claim TC officials denied.

Instead, TC leaders said the hub plan was to give the ministry more control over Web content.

MPTC’s decision Monday is an apparent backtrack from a plan that the ministry’s director general, Moa Chakrya once detailed to the Post.

Moa Chakrya could not be reached for comment late Monday.

However, the attendee said Monday that ministry officials denied floating the plan as definitive and said the organisation had instead only been formulating ideas.

Private sector officials were also criticised for speaking to the media, the source said.

Moving forward, the attendee said, MPTC suggested that exchange providers would need licences to operate. It was not clear how these would be enforced or set out.

The government’s issue of overlapping frequency licences to ISPs was also discussed. But a resolution, the source said, had yet to be reached.

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