Rolling out the largest and fastest mobile data network in Cambodia presents many challenges. But the challenge is one that is being embraced by Cellcard as the end result presents Cellcard the opportunity to reaffirm its position as the true innovator and leading provider of digital services in Cambodia. This will bring a much better experience for all data users in the country and the future economy.
We talk with Cellcard Chief Executive Officer Ian Watson and Chief Technology Officer Jonjon Naval on the upgrade and expansion of the Cellcard network that is set to change the face of communications in the region.
Both see Cellcard continuing to lead the innovation that will ultimately position Cambodia as a world-class ICT hub giving the country technological independence to service the full range of customers making Cellcard the digital enabler for all Cambodians.
Affordable access to mobile data for all Cambodians is Cellcard’s mantra and is one that is backed by itssignificantinvestment in the network, and the most attractive data offers ever launched in the country.
You announced your bold network plans in January this year. How far has the work progressed since then?
Cellcard’s vision is to be the biggest, largest and fastest network in the country. We planned to deploy more than 3000 base stations of the latest technology in 4G/LTE before the year ends.We have mostly completed our network in Phnom Penh with 1000-plus 4G sites. We now have the biggest coverage and the fastest speed in the city. Nation-wide will see more than 2200 sites installed by mid-June . We’ve added areas which were previously not covered.Cellcard is now very strong in Sihanoukville, Kampot, Kandal and just recently in Kampong Cham. Our customershave started to notice better road. coverage improvementsalso from Phnom Penh to Bavet, to Sihanouokville and Kep. By the end of June all major roads throughout the country will be covered.
Latest benchmarking results show that Cellcard 4G now has a bigger and better coverage footprint than the rest of the competitors, and even third party applications like Open Signal have started to identify Cellcard as the network with the fastest speed in Phnom Penh.
We’re enhancing the user experience for customers too with Carrier Aggregation (4G+ speed upgrade up to 300mbps), in ToulToumpong (Russian Market Area) and we intend to deploy this solution in the key cities of Cambodia over the coming months.
Cellcard will continue to lead and innovate and will be at the forefront of pre-5G technology for which we are already preparing. We will continuously upgrade our capacity, bandwidth and speed to adapt to the consumer demand and requirements.
What are the reasons for the delay from the original plan to have the roll-out completed by end of June?
Since we launched our $1=100 data offer in January, data traffic has risen dramaticallyand we have to ensure the capacity of our network is meeting the data traffic demands of our customers. We needed to focus more on the densification on the key cities (ie Phnom Penh and Siem Reap) and then go to the rest of the areas. Also to ensure the best quality and experience, we opted to focus more on quality delivery of new sites rather than bringing up new sites fast but with poor workmanship and quality. We will not waiver on the Cellcard commitment to quality for our customers.
Furthermore, we needed time to plan for optimum upgrades -we are introducing VOLTE to further deliver our quality commitment. We are also delivering micro cells and small sites that will provide better densification, coverage and speed. We will improve deep indoor coverage with in-building solutions for commercial establishments and residential/commercial buildings.
What does all this new network mean for customers?
For our customers, this means they will have the best user experience in both voice and data. They will have the most affordable data in the country and the best network with the fastest speed and largest coverage. All provinces, communes , villages and major roads in Cambodia will be covered once our data network is complete.
It also means our customers can look to Cellcard to set the standard for quality and affordable communications wherever, whenever and whoever they are bridging the digital divide.
This means fast download and upload speeds for data, speedy access to everything they need on the internet, uninterrupted OTT calls,video streams and entertainment.
You talk about affordability. Can you give more detail on what you are guaranteeing?
You can’t say you are proudly Khmer without making some guarantees and commitments to the people of Cambodia. We have been serving this country for 20 years and we understand the people and the journey that Cambodia is on. We are connected to that journey as Cellcard will be a major driver for building the future ICT hub as part of the Royal Group’s vision. Our network, our frequency and capacity, together with Ezecom’s capabilities and the $70 million submarine cable creates an enormous opportunity for Cambodia’s future ICT.
Affordability needs to be considered at two ends of the spectrum. Affordability is now in the formof generous offers such as Osja Xchange and Big Love. These data offers are unmatched in the market and the result of these offers has quadrupled data consumption on our network since January.
And then there is affordability in the future on a much larger scale. By having our own ICT infrastructure and controlling our own pipeline we can operate at a vastly cheaper rate and pass these savings onto customers.
What’s next for Cellcard?
We stand by our generous data plans and that won’t change. In fact we will continue to live up to our promise to give our customers the best network, the best value and a quality of service people can rely on.
Recent research shows us that the people of Cambodia recognise Cellcard as the most credible, reliable and quality-driven telecom operator with the best customer service.
We will build on that, continue our great work with the youth segment, meeting the needs of the business community and delivering the best data network into rural areas and complete our network enhancement to give coverage, capacity and capability not yet experienced in Cambodia.
We will also progress our ICT hub blueprint within the Group as we plan for the future , leading and delivering the digital transformation of Cambodia.
Our prime focus is to progress the country by leading Cambodia into the digital age.
We are proudly Khmer and our commitment to accelerating mobile data penetration and to be the true enabler of a digital Cambodia is unwavering.
Want to know more about the network where you live and work? Open Signal is an independent app developed to measure and compare the network coverage and speed in any given area. The app can be downloaded onto your phone from IOS and Android play stores. Simply enter the location you want to compare, select 4G, and click compare.