In a bid to reduce the costs of telecommunications services in Cambodia, Tecotech Co., Ltd will invest $50 million in submarine cable linking Sihanoukville to Japan and to global networks beyond, Tecotech chairman Huot Vanthan told the Post on June 21.
Pok Sophat, director of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications’ administration department said that Tecotech would be the first-ever Cambodian company to invest in submarine cable.
“The cable is another choice of gateway that will lower the cost of calls going in and out of Cambodia,” said Sophat.
Satellite communications were simply too expensive, Huot Vanthan added.
“I will spend my own capital and help connect Cambodia to the world,” by cooperating with a US-based firm, said Vanthan, who also operates a specialized investment bank and is a shareholder of Maruha Japan Bank. “We won’t begin to see a return … until the fourth year of operations.”
Tecotech began laying an inland cable from Phnom Penh to Sihanoukville last week and was expected to complete this stage of the project within eight months. The whole project was slated for completion in about two-and-a-half years.
The German government has already donated fiber optic cables to connect Poipet and Siem Reap to Phnom Penh, and from Phnom Penh to Bavet, and Svay Rieng along the Vietnamese border, said Sophat.
“We already have six GSM network operators here,” said Vanthan. “So we should have a low-cost cable backbone for them.”
Once the system was up, he added, the price of telecommunications would come down considerably, allowing Cambodia to attract more investors with lower communications costs.
Compared to Thailand and Vietnam, Cambodia currently had the lowest level of technology and highest telecommunications costs in the region and was failing to meet its potential as a communications hub at the center of ASEAN.
I will spend my own capital and help
to the world.
– Huot Vanthan
“Our aim is offer cheap telecommunications to the public and to investors,” said Sophat, noting that the National Assembly was expected to soon pass a law assuring fair competition in the telecoms industry.
Cambodia’s open market policy has attracted many telecoms with high potential for growth, he said.
Last year, the Cambodia Investment Board (CIB) approved licenses for several telecommunication companies and the sector brought in a total of $471 million in capital, creating about 1,850 jobs.
Among telecoms receiving the green light in 2007 were Cambodia Advance Communications Co. (CADCOMMS), a 3G network provider with $164 million in capital; (Cambodia) Fiber Optic Communication Network Co., with 100-percent Chinese investment and $28.3 million in assets; and Applifone, a GSM 1800 Mobile network with 75 percent Kazakhstan investment and 25 percent Nepali investment, as well as assets $82.8 million.
Meanwhile, Viettel (Cambodia), a GSM mobile service project 100 percent owned by the Vietnamese People’s Army, will invest $70 million in building a Cambodian arm.