Heartening news, both per se and per the fact that it sets a high standard for other
public services (and not just in Cambodia) to meet.
Up until last month, when all seemed lost but turned out not to be, I've handled
my financial affairs with collect and free calls via ATT Direct, one of the several
Home Country Direct free 800 numbers listed inside the pay phone kiosks. The number
of pay phones which could actually access the numbers was dwindling steadily but
hitting a few of the CALTEX stations would always turn up one. Then last month all
of them announced,"This number does not exist". Panic.
Went to the Radio Telephone Repair Center. Mr Narith, Manager, said it sounded like
a gateway problem, and told me to contact Mr Vuthy at the Ministry's Intl. Communications
office. Mr Vuthy rang up Mr Vikra, who knows about these things. Mr Vikra said they
had dropped the Home Country switching because of lack of equipment to keep the circuit
in repair, and lack of funds to buy the equipment, and didn't know when it might
be up again.
The next day, he called. "OK, we have Home Country Direct backup now in all
CALTEX stations payphones. Let me know if you have any more trouble."
Each person I talked to in this process was friendly and helpful. And Mr Vikra's
follow-up was ... unprecedented. The following day, he even called again to tell
me that there are two CALTEX locations that still have some individual problems -
one near the Law Faculty, and the other in a place I don't recall.
Lastly, for all you IDD payphone users, Mr. Vuthy's information office gave me a
list of all the payphones kitted out for IDD. I've sent a copy to the Post. Note
that there still may be problems at any given location for either IDD or Home Country
Direct, but right now the overall theoretical system is as described, and Home Country
worked great - last week, at least.
- Rob Schwab, Phnom Penh