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Towers to improve Angkor Wat's cell coverage, discreetly

People walk through the grounds of Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat last year.
People walk through the grounds of Siem Reap’s Angkor Wat last year. Vireak Mai

Towers to improve Angkor Wat's cell coverage, discreetly

Visitors to Cambodia’s premiere tourist destination, Angkor Wat, can expect better mobile network coverage come June, after Apsara Authority signed an agreement with local telecom services firm Camtowerlink Communications to install six camouflaged mobile towers across the vast temple site.

Designed to resemble trees, the towers will be used to help local mobile providers provide better connection to visitors, making it more convenient for tourists, said Long Kosal, director of communication at Apsara Authority.

He said it was the first time that Apsara has allowed telecommunication towers inside the Angkor-era temple complex, and the authority has been careful to minimise their visual and environmental impact.

“We have studied other companies and we selected this company because they have the capacity to provide good technology, and most importantly it will not impact the site’s heritage and environment,” Kosal said.

Kosal added that tourists were getting little or no mobile coverage in certain areas of the archaeological park, which resulted in the park’s administrative body taking the decision to get camouflaged towers.

“This is first time a memorandum of understanding for installing artificial antennas has been signed to provide better facilities and convenience for tourists to better use their phones for communication,” he said.

Camtowerlink CEO Yusoff Zamri said installation of the towers has already begun and will be completed by June this year. The camouflaged towers, he said, would provide other mobile service providers the option of placing their base stations on them for a fee.

“We are talking to mobile providers and they want to place their equipment with us,” he said. “I foresee four to five providers who would want to place their equipment in the Apsara complex.”

Im Vutha, director of regulation and dispute unit at Telecom Regulator of Cambodia, said following the completion of the six towers, there were plans to add 18 more antennas.

“The company has the expertise of installing antennae and telecom infrastructure” he said, “When installation of the antennas is complete, the operators can negotiate their terms of business with Camtowerlink.”

More than 2.1 million foreign tourists visited the Angkor Wat temples near Siem Reap last year, bringing in $60 million in ticket sales, according to the Apsara Authority. The temples also attract large numbers of domestic tourists.

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