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Technology spreads in Kingdom’s rural areas

Technology spreads in Kingdom’s rural areas

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Nhek Kosal Vithyea speaks at an ICT workshop at NagaWorld yesterday. Photo by: Marisa Reichert

ALTHOUGH telecommunication technology is spreading throughout Cambodia, rural areas are lagging behind the rest of the Kingdom, experts said yesterday.

“Cambodia has abundant use of mobile phones, particularly in Phnom Penh, but in rural areas there is not yet always a functioning telecommunication network,” said National ICT Communication Technology Development Authority board member Nhek Kosal Vithyea.

Speaking at a policy workshop on rural ICT development, held at Phnom Penh’s NagaWorld hotel yesterday, the former director general of Telecom Cambodia said the spread of technology was important for economic growth as well as supporting transparency and accountability.

The number of fixed-line telephones has long lagged the number of mobile phone phones in the Kingdom.

However, statistics showed rapid growth for fixed-line phones last year following several years of little growth.

In 2010, the Kingdom had 358,850 fixed-line subscribers, compared with 42,000 in 2009, and 45,000 in 2005, according to ministry statistics. Commentators said those living in rural areas contributed to this.

“So people in rural areas are using this [technology],” said Sieng Sithy, deputy director of the ministry’s Directorate of Telecommunications Policies Regulation. His name has appeared on emails leaked to The Post requesting Internet Service Providers to block certain websites.

Ministry officials added that growth in the number of fixed lines was due to increased popularity of a Viettel product – the Methome – that counts as a fixed line device in statistics but wirelessly runs off of mobile towers.

International Telecommunications Union ICT specialist Wisit Atipayakoon said some of the roadblocks to spreading ICT in Cambodia were well understood – including limited availability of electricity and low penetration rates of many technologies.

But the Kingdom’s young generation was keen to makes use of the latest technology, helping rural development, he said.

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