Cambodia's wireless carriers recorded a drop in users as the coronavirus crisis squeezes economic activity.
But fixed broadband internet subscriptions have seen a remarkable rise, underpinned by heightened demand from the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) sector and an increase in social media users, said Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) spokesman Im Vutha.
As the telecom and information and communications technology (ICT) industries emerge as the new focal point of the global economy, the TRC is thriving to equip the Kingdom with the appropriate infrastructure, he said.
The number of active mobile phone subscriptions across the Kingdom’s six operators was 20,481,051 as of the end of May, inching down 0.08 per cent from the end of May last year, data from the TRC show.
This figure is the equivalent of 124.09 per cent of the total population.
At the same time, the number of landline and fixed-line subscriptions numbered just 52,480 as of the end of May, slipping 21.62 per cent from the end of May last year.
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.
Meanwhile the number of Facebook users in the Kingdom reached 10.95 million, TRC data show.
TRC’s Vutha said the Covid-19 pandemic’s impact on the telecom industry has been marginal and not a cause for concern to the development of the ICT sector in Cambodia.
He said: “The decline in number of mobile phone and mobile internet subscriptions during the time is negligible – the figure basically hit a ceiling at 20 million, given that the total population is nearly 16 million.
“Covid-19 primarily affected the mobility of people, particularly evident in the sharp slump in international tourists and residents working in Cambodia – I am not worried about it.
“On the other hand, we recorded an increase in number of fixed broadband internet subscriptions of more than 30 per cent due to a rapid surge in customers from the SME sector and the rising trend of social media users – from eight million to more than 10 million.”
Vutha noted that there had been a rise in the usage of online services during the first five months of this year as more schools and businesses develop an online presence.
“I am confident that as our 5G network continues to expand, so too will the number of mobile phone subscriptions and fixed internet users, further buoyed by a ballooning number of SMEs.
“The spread of Covid-19 will certainly not be a barrier for the development of the sector,” he said.
In May, the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications urged all local telecom operators to inject funding for infrastructure and improve the quality of mobile and internet services.
This came in a bid to handle the increasing demand from a growing number of people working from home and studying online.
It said in a statement: “All mobile telecommunications operators need to improve the quality of their telecommunications services everywhere, especially in urban areas and in new development areas.
“The ministry makes it clear that telecommunications operators must guarantee the quality of mobile services to consumers in accordance with the terms of their licence. Any provision of poor quality mobile service is a dishonest act as stated in the Consumer Protection Act,” it said.
As of the end of the May, the Kingdom’s 4G network covers 52.7 per cent of its geographical landmass, or 80.3 per cent of its total population, TRC data show.
Meanwhile, its 3G network covers 60 per cent of its landmass, or 85.1 per cent of its population, while 2G covers 85.7 per cent of its landmass, or 99.2 per cent of its population.
Meanwhile, State-owned Telecom Cambodia (TC), Cambodia Fibre Optic Communication Network Co Ltd (CFOCN) and Viettel (Cambodia) Pte Ltd have invested in the instalment of more than 44,251km of fibre optic cable in the Kingdom.
Viettel Cambodia is a subsidiary of Viettel Group, the Vietnamese military-owned operator of Cambodian mobile operator Metfone.