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Telecom industry gearing for '95 boom

Telecom industry gearing for '95 boom

CAMBDIA'S fledgling telecommunications industry is rapidly growing into a modem,

nationwide system as foreign firms enter the market. 1995 is set to be a key

year in its development.

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications

expects to add some 21,000 more telephone lines this year, according to the MPTC

Undersecretary of State Koy Kim Sea.

Up to 10,000 lines would come from

the Indonesia's Indosat telephone company, along with a total grant of 11,000

lines in Japanes and French aid. Next year, a further 20,000 lines was in the

offing from Japan.

Compared to MPTC's old, frequently broken-down system

of 3000 lines, the future for Cambodian telecommunications was looking

bright.

It currently had a total 13,000 domestic and international

telephone lines, with more on the way.

MPTC made $20 million from the

telecommunications sector last year and, with further joint ventures with

foreign companies planned, could make more this year.

Cambodia's biggest

international telecommunications system is run by Australian firm Telstra, which

provides international direct dial services to 200 countries from Phnom Penh

under a business cooperation contract with MPTC.

In the Telstra deal, the

government gets more than 50 per cent of the profit from the handling of

incoming telephone calls, and Telstra the remainder. Outgoing calls earn the

government 100 per cent profit, though a Telstra may soon start receiving a

small percentage.

Telstra senior representative Russell Stuart said the

deal was "good for the government and good for Telstra".

Telstra's

recently-opened $16 million Bayon satellite telecommunications center could meet

as much demand as necessary for the next 10 years, he predicted.

Telstra

is also planning to expand microwave telephone services, used for

shorter-distance international calls, to Vietnam.

Indosat, meanwhile,

which signed a joint-venture contract with MPTC on Dec 29, is planning to

rehabilitate and expand the ex-UNTAC telephone system used during the election

period.

Under the contract, MPTC gets 51 per cent of profit made and

Indosat 49 per cent, reflecting the investments made by both sides, according to

Indosat representatives.

Indosat director Tjahjono Soerjodibroto said the

firm, which was investing $27 million, planned to expand domestic and

international telephone services in Phnom Penh and the provinces.

The

Minister of Post and Telecommunications, So Khun, said Sihanoulville, Siem Reap,

Battambang and Banteay Meanchay would have priority to be connected to the

Indosat network. He hoped this could be done by mid-1995, with other provinces

following later.

Two other foreign firms - Australia Direct and AT&T

of America-have recently stepped into the market, offering Home Country Direct

telephone services.

Meanwhile, there are five mobile telephone firms

operating in Phnom Penh, in joint-ventures with MPTC.

The Shinawatra firm's engineering manager, Trairat Kaewkerd, said the firm

had 2033 subscribers in the capital. It currently leased international telephone

capacity from MPTC and planned to invest $3.2 million in expanding its network

to Kompong Som and Kompong Cham this year.

Kaewkerd said the firm was not

yet profitable and had had trouble getting cooperation from MPTC.

Koy

Kim Sea acknowledged MPTC had been tardy in helping Shinawatra and would take

this into account in the future.

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