As the only fully Cambodian -owned major telecoms company in the country, Cellcard is a name that has established itself firmly in Cambodia and, as the 5G era is ushered in, the company sees itself embarking along the journey of digitilisation that is currently taking over the country.
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CEO of Cellcard Ian Watson tells Khmer Times that all three operators are working closely with the government to see if there are enough spectrums allocated to enable 5G in the country.
“Last year we did a standalone 5G testing and our entire network is pre-5G ready because all the fibres to enable it have been laid down,”
He highlighted the opportunities that will be available because 5G will be at the head of the economy. This will open doors to enhanced education, gaming, video and, according to Watson, down the road, 5G could even tap into more accurate weather forecasting and better drone usage.
The term leapfrog has been used to describe Cambodia’s economy and development and this applies to the telecommunication industry as well. However, any slowdown in rolling out 5G will be costly.
“If we don’t roll out this year, we will lose out. I think there is so much demand for data and interest in new content and speed,” said Watson, who believes that Cambodia’s business market will benefit greatly – and this includes foreign investment.
While Phnom Penh and a select few other provinces will receive 5G coverage, others will continue to benefit from high speed 4G.
Watson also pointed out that in comparison with countries such as Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam, for instance, Cambodia has been faring well in terms of coverage and density.
“I think people are very surprised by how good our network is. It may not be perfect but progress will never stop,” said Watson.
The chief executive officer also highlighted 2019 as a tough year with a tough market. He emphasised the price war that has been raging between networks to keep the prices low. However, he believes that users cannot expect the price to stay the same for good services.
“Rolling out a new technology service is expensive. This will definitely affect the prices as well,” he said.
Furthermore, the ever-increasing demand for data has proven to be a challenge, because more and more Cambodians are absorbed by gaming sports and strong data is needed to keep the involvement going.
“While the demand has been increasing, Cellcard has been effectively keeping up with it,” says Watson.
Power disruptions proved to be a challenge to the telecommunications company with Cambodia facing a series of power cuts in the first half of 2019 which affected a number of business operations.
In terms of competition, Watson points out that among the major networks, healthy competition has kept companies on their toes. Cambodia also has two other major operators, Seatel and Kingtel, who have now also been registered to work on rolling out 5G.
“I don’t think the country can support a lot of operators and if the non-major operators were to boost their efforts, it would certainly be difficult for them to keep the traction going,” said Watson.