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MPs check out ultra-modern phone system

MPs check out ultra-modern phone system

A s the new Telstra OTC-constructed Intelsat earth satellite station nears

completion, seven members of National Assembly toured the site to enhance their

understanding of what will be the most modern telephone communications system in

Asia, once up and running.

The March 19 visit was undertaken by MPs who

are members of the Assembly's Committee of Public Services, Transport,

Telecommunications, Posts, Industry, Energy and Trade, whose mandate includes

oversight of Cambodia's telephone system. Member of Parliament HE Ahmah Yah Ya,

who chairs the committee headed the delegation of MPs who toured the site on

Monivong Boulevard.

In l993 alone outgoing international calls generated

revenues of over $22 million, all of which goes to the government under the

Telstra-Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC)

agreement.

Telstra Country Manager Russell Stuart said the new earth

satellite station would be on line by July this year. The Intelsat Standard A

satellite dish will supplement an existing, but smaller F2 satellite station and

serve Cambodia's international communications needs well into the 21st

century.

"The system will be the most modern in the world," said Stuart,

"more modern than anything in the region."

With the existing F2 dish,

direct calls from Cambodia can only be made to Australia, Thailand, Singapore

and Japan.

All other international calls must "transit" through one of

these countries before reaching their final destination, thus adding to the

price per call. With the new dish, international calling capabilities will be

expanded significantly enabling a number of countries to be added to the

"direct" call list.

While phone users will not experience an immediate

drop in international rates, Stuart says current plans include reductiotions in

tariffs over the next five years.

"Cambodia is in a particular stage of

its embryonic [communications] development," said Stuart noting that with only

5,000 international lines the current high phone rates were

justified.

Telstra has initiated an ambitious training program for MPTC

staff. Of the 175 employees in the Ministry's international division, 136 are

either in the process or will receive training in appropriate computer

technology, English language skills, and related operational and repair

technologies.

According to Stuart, Telstra is fully committed to a total

transfer of technological skills to their Cambodian

counterparts.

"Eventually, we'll have no one here and the whole system

will be run by Cambodians," said Stuart, who hails from Australia, where Telstra

is based.

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