|Written by Hor Hab and Chun Sophal|
|TUESDAY, 27 JANUARY 2009|
Hopes high $18 million infrastructure project will bring cheaper, faster internet to Cambodia
CAMBODIA is expected to complete the latest stage of its telecoms infrastructure development in April - a fibre-optic cable to Laos that will connect to China's Yunnan Province, telecommunications officials said Monday.
Cambodia and Laos signed a memorandum of understanding on January 12 in Champassak province, Laos, to finalise the arrangement.
Cambodia Telecom has implemented the project on the Cambodian side with construction already complete, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun told the Post Monday.
The US$18 million project - built with a loan from China - would, he added, "improve the quality of internet, telecommunications and televisions system transfer".
It is part of information and communication technology [ICT] in Cambodia, he said, adding that the new infrastructure would offer greater opportunities for connectivity in Cambodia.
The project will also improve the speed of internet connections and reduce the cost of telecommunication services, said Sao Valak, CEO of internet service provider Campura System Corp.
This connection ... can integrate economic and political cooperation.
"With this cable link, Cambodia is no longer isolated from the rest of the world," he added.
Integrating with the region
The new cable has been constructed in two phases, the first a 113-kilometre section from Poipet on the Thai border up to Siem Reap province. This section is then connected to a longer 700-kilometre fibre optic cable that runs north of Siem Reap province across the Lao border at Nong Nonkhien.
In turn, the Laotian connection extends the cable network already in place in China's Yunnan province.
Another fibre-optic cable crosses Cambodia east to west between Thailand and Vietnam - a project implemented with money from Germany - meaning the new cable to China will further develop Cambodia's telecommunications system as part of the greater Mekong subregion.
"This connection is very important because it can integrate economic and political cooperation with the region and the world," said Ken Chanthan, president of the ICT Association of Cambodia.
Still, many challenges remain, he added. Cambodia still suffers from a lack of IT human resources and very low internet connectivity in rural areas.
"We can create job opportunities for our people if we can develop ICT to a certain level, because ICT services are still limited. We always hire overseas consultants," he said.
Sao Volak called on Cambodian people - and particularly students - to take full advantage of improved infrastructure by becoming better trained in information technology.