Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Telcotech leads race for undersea cable

Telcotech leads race for undersea cable

A cable ship installs high speed submarine cable linking Singapore to France earlier this year. Boris Horvat/AFP
A cable ship installs high speed submarine cable linking Singapore to France earlier this year. Boris Horvat/AFP

Telcotech leads race for undersea cable

Telcotech, a subsidiary of local internet provider Ezecom, announced yesterday that it is nearing completion of Cambodia’s first submarine fibre-optic cable, which it expects to be operational by early next year.

The Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) submarine cable system will connect the three countries directly and link in to the Asia-America Gateway (AAG), an existing 20,000-kilometre-long undersea data highway that connects the Far East to the United States.

Yves Schaeffer, CEO of Ezecom and Telcotech, said the landing stations had been built in the three countries and preparations were now underway to lay the cable on the seafloor.

The cable project is being carried out with Symphony Communication of Thailand and Telekom Malaysia, and is being built by Chinese submarine network provider Huawei Marine Networks.

“We signed onto a consortium with Malaysia and Thailand in May 2015 and the cable construction has been undertaken since then and is expected to be ready in the first quarter of 2017,” Schaeffer told reporters.

Landing stations for the 1,300-kilometre-long MTC cable system are located in Sihanoukville, Rayong in Thailand and Cherating in Malaysia.

This map shows the route of three submarine telecommunications cables under construction with landing sites in Cambodia.
This map shows the route of three submarine telecommunications cables under construction with landing sites in Cambodia.

According to Schaeffer, the submarine cable and its related infrastructure will be completed at a cost of $70 million, providing a total capacity of 30 terabits per second (Tbps). The price, ownership and management of the cable will be split evenly between the three members of the consortium.

He said that the completion of the MCT cable will allow the Kingdom to benefit from faster internet and cheaper services. However, he pointed out that despite the cable’s high capacity, connectivity speeds for end users will depend on the technology used by downstream internet service providers (ISPs).

“Talking about speed is a little difficult for us because we are [only] providing the ICT cable capacity, we are not providing speed as such, so it will depend on the infrastructure of the people we will sell our capacity to in order to make sure the speed is there.”

Prakash Velaydudhan, chief technology officer for Ezecom, said the new capacity offered by the cable could be 20 to 30 times greater than what is currently available in Cambodia.

“Say you are travelling between Cambodia and Vietnam by road,” he said. “With this cable, we are building an airport to make the journey faster.”

Two rival groups have also announced plans for their own submarine cable connections to Cambodia, but neither is expected to complete their project ahead of Ezecom.

Marith Khin, country manager for NTT Communications Corp, a Japanese technology provider, confirmed that if Ezecom completes its cable by the announced date it would be the Kingdom’s first undersea connection.

NTT is working with partners from Malaysia, Singapore and the Philippines to link Cambodia to the Asia Submarine-Cable Express (ASE), a fibre-optic undersea cable that runs from Singapore and Japan, with spur lines to Hong Kong and Manila. The total carrying capacity of the 7,800-kilometre-long undersea cable network is 15 Tbps.

The Cambodia Fiber Optic Cable Network (CFOCN) is developing a third fibre-optic cable connection for Cambodia as part of the nearly-completed Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable. The AAE-1 spans 25,000 kilometres from Southeast Asia to Europe and has over 40 Tbps capacity.

Steven Path, president of the Cambodian ICT Federation, said the chief benefits of an undersea cable connection for internet users in the Kingdom were more affordable and higher-quality services.

“The impact of this should be very significant as it creates more access points and more routes to the internet, so prices should come down,” he said.

He explained that submarine cables offer an alternative to the existing terrestrial links with countries such as Vietnam, which created dependence on a small number of internet sources and limited internet speeds.

“We’ve become way too dependent on one or two sources for our internet, but now the cable gives us a route that is hopefully a larger and more cost-effective pipeline,” Path said.

However, given the current competition faced by local internet providers, he feels that it is unlikely the launch of a new undersea connection would attract more foreign ISPs.

“We were thinking that the industry should be consolidating because there is a price war going on and whoever owns the backend of the infrastructure is going to survive, so I would be surprised if there were more ISP companies opening up to piggy-back off existing infrastructure,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • Body of woman killed in Bangkok returns

    The Cambodian embassy in Thailand is working to repatriate the body of a casino dealer who was shot dead in Bangkok on Monday night. Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation spokesman Kuy Kuong told The Post on Wednesday that officials are preparing paperwork to

  • Chikungunya hits 15 provinces, says gov’t

    Ministry of Health spokeswoman Or Vandine said on Thursday that the chikungunya outbreak in the Kingdom has spread to 15 provinces. Some 1,700 people are now suspected to have the disease. Vandine urged people to prevent its further spread by eliminating shelters for the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes

  • Gov’t exempts visa A and B holders from Covid fees

    Airline passengers who are diplomats and officials of international organisations holding Type A and B visas for travel to Cambodia are exempted from paying Covid-19 testing fees, said the Ministry of Health in its latest adjustment of rules on Wednesday. Health Minister Mam Bun Heng

  • Police arrest 29 Chinese for kidnapping in capital

    Phnom Penh Military Police arrested 29 Chinese nationals on kidnapping charges on Wednesday. The suspects are said to have abducted three other Chinese nationals from a hotel in Chaktomuk commune, Daun Penh district. The operation took place on Wednesday and was led by two deputy commanders –

  • Bill covering dress code draws ire

    Ministry of Interior secretary of state Ouk Kim Lek responded on Tuesday to criticism concerning a draft law that would ban women from wearing overly revealing clothing, saying that input from all parties will be considered as the law moves through the promulgation process. Several

  • What’s the deal with Cambodia and China’s FTA?

    Cambodia’s Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with China kicks off a series of FTAs in future but for now, critics wonder what else the parties could bring to the table apart from what it already has to date By the end of this year, Cambodia