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Internet users rise as network coverage expands

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A woman uses her cellphone to check an online store in Facebook. KT/Chor Sokunthea

There has been a spike in the number of internet connections in the Kingdom, with nearly two million new subscribers registered in the first half of 2018, an official with the Telecommunication Regulator Cambodia said yesterday.

Im Vutha, spokesman for the TRC, said the total number of internet users has reached 12 million as of the end of last month, up from 10.8 million in December.

He added that two million new Facebook accounts have also been created this year.

“By the end of 2017, we saw that Facebook accounts numbered about 4.8 million, but in the first six months of this year, the number of Facebook accounts has reached 6.8 million users,” he said, noting that Facebook represents 69 percent of social media accounts registered in the country.

“The number of internet connections has risen tremendously,” he added. “The rise of internet subscribers can be attributed to the fact that some mobile operators have expanded their coverage areas and networks to rural areas.”

Mr Vutha said the number of mobile phone connections has slightly dipped over the past few years as the market becomes less saturated.

With a population of about 15 million, there were 20 million mobile phone connections in Cambodia in 2015, dropping to 19.9 million in 2016, 18.57 million in 2017, and up slightly to 18.9 million this year.

Mr Vutha said the quality of networks and coverage has improved, with more areas able to access 3G to 4.5G connections for internet use.

“The country’s economic growth has contributed to a boost in living standards of the people, enabling them to afford and access new smartphones and new technology that they use both for voice calls and internet use,” he said.

“We want the internet connected nationwide by 2020 to 2023,” he added. “If connections continue to spread to rural areas, there will be more users connected to the internet.”

Smart Axiata last week started construction of a base transceiver station tower in Kampong Chhnang province, a project that will widen the reach and increase the speed of mobile internet services in the Kingdom.

Viettel, a Vietnamese mobile operator and owner of Metfone, launched a base station in the same province last week.

The two telecommunications facilities are being built as part of the companies’ responsibility toward the Universal Service Obligation Fund, which was established under the country’s telecommunications laws and require all telcos to contribute two percent of their gross revenue to reduce the digitisation gap between cities and rural areas.

Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt said the new infrastructure reflects his company’s commitment to the USO Funds and to expanding network coverage across the country.

“We will help more Cambodians get access to mobile internet services to participate in the digital age,” Mr Hundt said.

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