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Two more telecom firms join 5G scramble

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart Axiata speaks at lunch 5G in Smart head office. KT/Siv Channa

Two more telecom operators in Cambodia are preparing pilot trials for the fifth generation wireless technology for digital cellular networks known as 5G.

This will massively increase download times and enable Cambodia to join the Fourth Industrial Revolution (Industry 4.0), essential to a successful future digital economy.

Three main telecom operators are already piloting 5G here and aim to launch it across the country this year to align with a government target, said a senior official from the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC).

5G will enable robotics in industry and government functions run efficiently by the internet, among other advantages.

Im Vutha, spokesman for Cambodia’s telecoms regulator, told Khmer Times that so far there are six mobile operators operating and providing the service in the Kingdom. He said that among the six companies, the three biggest players have already tested their 5G network and will launch the service by this year.

They are Smart Axiata Co Ltd, Cam GSM, commercially known as Cellcard, and Metfone. Im said; however, that the South East Asia Telecom Group Pte Ltd (SEATEL Group) and Kingtel aim to pilot 5G as well.

There were 22million Sim-card subscribers among the six mobile operators by the end of 2019. Internet subscribers numbered 16.5million, according to TRC’s statistics.

“At present, the government is focusing on the digital economy. Therefore, it needs the digital infrastructure connected. This comes in the form of 5G. If there is no 5G, we cannot run a digital economy effectively,” Im added.

“For our economic foundation, we can use 4G, but 5G must be aligned with Industry 4.0 to access the latest technology and artificial intelligence and the internet of things [IoT].

“To launch 5G, we must have a clear policy set by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia and to align with the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), which sets the standards on what are the range of frequencies of 5G in the world and in the region.”

He said that to allow the mobile operators to launch 5G, the ministry will set up a policy to support and ensure the investment security of companies doing business in Cambodia.

“The three big telecom companies are ready for 5G, but the government has to make sure that they can run it,” he said. Each company has to have at least $250 million for the first stage. Therefore, the private sector asked the government to set up a policy to show to the private sector that they can generate profits once they invest in 5G and serve the various sectors and consumers affordably,” Im said, adding because Cambodia is not a heavy industry- or manufacturing-based country it will take time to see its full benefits.

Recently, China has devised a customized 5G training programme for Cambodian telecoms officials to enable them to understand China’s policy on supporting 5G development and its IT application.

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