Cambodian minister attacks telcos

01 July 2021

Disruptions to telephone and internet services reported across Cambodia June 2 were a result of poor infrastructure development in the telecommunications sector, according to the country’s minister of posts and telecommunications.

Chea Vandeth blamed internet and mobile service providers for not investing enough in antenna masts and other infrastructure to meet growing consumer demand.

“The companies would build a single tower to serve an area of 3,000 people, which would’ve since grown to 10,000 people,” Vandeth said. “Thus many customers experience disrupted services, and towers are far apart from each other, with companies not installing more. Companies are merely looking to turn a profit and line their own pockets with money without bothering to deploy additional equipment.” 

Growing urbanisation and a rising number of high-rises dotting the skylines of the capital Phnom Penh and provincial towns create new market opportunities for the sector. However, even though telecoms firms churn out copious amounts of promotional packages to capitalise on the growing momentum in the industry, a sizeable portion provide substandard services, Vandeth argued.

Nevertheless, the minister said telcos were not solely to blame.  “Some borey [gated communities] allow exclusive internet service providers to increase prices and provide inadequate services, and others do not have land for building telecoms poles,” he added.

Vandeth has since tasked a ministerial team with gauging the quality of services provided at all borey, and the ministry ordered millions of dollars’ worth of equipment to measure services throughout the country.

Meanwhile, Malaysian-owned telecoms service provider Smart Axiata said it would inject another US$90m into the kingdom’s mobile network infrastructure this year to expand and improve its network and ensure stable and fast mobile broadband connectivity for subscribers nationwide.