Prime Minister Hun Sen urged the influential tycoon at the head of the country’s biggest conglomerate to move forward on a long-stalled plan to launch Cambodia’s first satellite, adding that it would be a profitable venture given the high demand from the booming telecommunications industry.
“It is time you partner with another company to launch a satellite for the benefit of our country,” he told Kith Meng, president and CEO of Royal Group, during the inauguration of the newly-built head office of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC).
He said the hefty investment in a communications satellite would not be lost, because “once the satellite is operational, telecom companies will rent the service and all [Cambodian] television broadcasters that use satellites will switch to using ours.”
In April 2011, Royal Group unveiled a plan to launch Cambodia’s first satellite at a cost of $250 million to $400 million under a concession licence from the MPTC. The company initially planned to put the satellite in orbit by early 2013 to provide services for phone, television and multimedia customers.
Meng was not available for comment yesterday, but his Royal Group has established joint ventures with dozens of local and international companies. Among its subsidiaries is CamGSM Co Ltd, operating as Cellcard, the country’s third-largest mobile phone network operator. It also owns Cambodian Broadcasting Service Co Ltd (CBS), which operates four television channels: CTN, MYTV, CNC and CTN International.
Moun Ramady, general manager of CNC TV, said whenever his company broadcasts from outside the studio it relies on the fibre-optic system of local internet firm Ezecom and satellite transmission provided at a cost by a Chinese company. He said if the option of a Cambodian-owned satellite were available, his station would likely use it.
“If a local company invests in a satellite it would be a great help for the Cambodian people, as well as television and telecom companies,” he said. Over 7,000 satellites have been launched since 1957 of which about 1,500 are currently active. Neighbouring Thailand and Vietnam have commercial and military satellites in orbit.
Laos launched its first satellite last year, delivered by a Chinese rocket launched from a base in western China. The Chinese government built and financed the $259-million communications satellite.