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Japan firm enters cable race

An EZECOM sign sits in front of a the company’s office in Phnom Penh
An EZECOM sign sits in front of a the company’s office in Phnom Penh last year. Hong Menea

Japan firm enters cable race

Japanese technology provider NTT Communications announced yesterday that it will link Cambodia to the Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), an underwater cable the company says will significantly enhance internet services for the Kingdom.

Some 7,800 kilometres long, the ASE runs from Japan to the Philippines and connects to Hong Kong before crossing the South China Sea to Singapore and Malaysia. The intended Cambodian link will run up through the Gulf of Thailand.

The cable’s data-carrying capacity is 15 terabits or above, according to an NTT Communications statement released yesterday.

“Located in the middle of the Southern Economic Corridor stretching from Bangkok and Ho Chi Minh City, Cambodia is experiencing rapid economic growth. In turn, the need for reliable, high-capacity networks is rising to meet the increasing communication demands of locally based multinational companies,” the statement reads.

Partnering with local firm Chuan Wei (Cambodia), NTT Communications claims that the ASE will be the first cable to connect with Cambodia.

Though neither NTT Communications nor Chuan Wei provided a date for the ASE link’s completion, the race to be the first to connect Cambodia via underwater transmission is on.

In June last year, local provider Ezecom unveiled the construction of an $80 million submarine cable project which promises to connect Cambodia to the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), a 20,000-kilometre cable linking Southeast Asia to the United States via Malaysia.

Paul Blanche-Horgan, CEO of Ezecom, a subsidiary company of Royal Group and Cambodia’s largest internet service provider, said he was not aware of NTT Communications’ plans, but that his company’s AAG work was progressing well.

“We are currently picking vendors for the project. Negotiations are being held this month, that is why we are here [in Shanghai],” Blanche-Horgan said yesterday during a telephone call.

Originally slated for completion by the end of this year, The Ezecom high-speed internet cable, which will travel 1,425 kilometres under the Gulf of Thailand and have a data carrying capacity of 8 terabits, is not expected to be completed until the end of 2015, according to Blanche-Horgan.

“There have been some delays,” he added, without going into detail.

Connection to one of the world’s major submarine internet cables will increase data transmission sizes and reduce costs for ISPs, according to Ken Chanthan, chairman of the ICT Association of Cambodia.

“I hope it will reduce the cost of the internet for people,” Chanthan said.

He added that many Cambodian ISPs have been forced to lease telecommunications infrastructure from Vietnam and that the introduction of just one submarine connection would help break
this dependence.

A second entrant to the cable market would only benefit consumers with added competition, Chanthan said.

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