The rash of disruptions to telephone and internet services reported across Cambodia on June 2 were a result of a lack of infrastructure development in the telecommunications sector, according to Minister of Posts and Telecommunications Chea Vandeth.
He pinned the blame on internet and mobile service providers for not investing enough in antenna masts and other infrastructure to meet the burgeoning consumer demand.
“The companies would build a single tower to serve an area of 3,000 people, which would’ve since grown to 10,000 people. Thus many customers experience disrupted services, and towers are far apart from each other, with companies not installing more.
“Companies are merely looking to turn a profit – line their own pockets with money without bothering to deploy additional equipment,” Vandeth said.
The growing trend of urbanisation in the Kingdom and a rising number of high-rises dotting the skylines of the capital and provincial towns create new market opportunities for the sector. But even though telecoms firms churn out copious amounts of promotional packages to capitalise on the growing momentum in the industry, a sizeable portion provide substandard services, he said.
But the blame does not rest solely in the hands of telecoms service providers, the minister noted. “Some borey [gated communities] allow exclusive internet service providers to increase prices and provide inadequate services, and others do not have land for building telecoms poles,” he said.
In response, Vandeth tasked a ministerial team with gauging the quality of services provided at all borey, and the ministry ordered millions of dollars’ worth of equipment to measure services throughout the country.
Malaysian-owned telecoms service provider Smart Axiata Co Ltd, a subsidiary of Kuala Lumpur-listed Axiata Group Bhd, on March 30 said it would inject another $90 million into the Kingdom’s mobile network infrastructure this year to expand and improve its network and ensure stable and fast mobile broadband connectivity for subscribers nationwide.
Boasting eight million subscribers and a 4G LTE network that covers 91.5 per cent of the population, Smart noted that it runs some 3,000 network sites across the Kingdom.
In an attempt to increase efficiency and quality of telecoms products across the Kingdom, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications last month set up five working groups tasked with assignments such as inspecting antenna masts, base stations, fibre optic networks and other infrastructure; and collecting information related to the quality and stability of services as well as the use of radio frequencies.
As of May last year, the number of active mobile phone subscriptions across the Kingdom’s six operators was 20,481,051, down by 0.08 per cent year-on-year, the latest data from Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia show.
The number of mobile internet subscriptions across Cambodia’s seven providers also recorded a 2.36 per cent drop to 14,863,435, whereas fixed broadband internet subscriptions across the Kingdom’s 37 providers logged a 33.07 per cent climb to 249,132.