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Government set to take over telecoms

Government set to take over telecoms

THE government is planning to set up a national telecommunications company under

the name of Telecom Cambodia. The public enterprise will take over the administration

and provision of international phone access when Australian telecommunications company

Telstra's contract runs out in October this year.

The Undersecretary of State in the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, Koy Kim

Sea, confirms that a subdecree to create Telecom Cambodia has already been prepared.

"We have thought about this for more than a year. So far we don't have a specific

time frame for when the company will be operable, and it may not happen until after

October," says Kim Sea.

Telecom Cambodia will also take over the administration of fixed national telephone

lines, now handled by the ministry itself. The idea is that the state company will

enter into a partnership with one or more private enterprises. A local firm, AZ,

is on top of the list of partnership candidates.

AZ supplies cables and other materials for telecommunication facilities and is reputed

to be connected to Prime Minister Hun Sen's wife, Bun Rany.

However the Manager at Telstra's internet division, Bigpond, David Lewis, confirms

that Telstra is still hoping for a part in the new international phone access deal.

"The discussions with the government are still going on. Telstra has a lot of

expertise in this area that may be valuable to the government as an international

partner," Lewis says.

According to Kim Sea, the government is hoping for an increase in telecommunications

within the next few years.

"Today the activity in telecommunication is limited and the national network

is still very small. But as facilities and the economy improve, we hope that the

telecommunications industry will provide more jobs," says Kim Sea.

"However, already now we feel that moving the international phone access to

a public enterprise such as Telecom Cambodia will offer the government more profit.

At least at this stage. Later, then, the company can be privatized."

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