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PM Wants Fast Data Satellite

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
An artist’s impression of a satellite in space. Reuters

Cambodia should have its own satellite to make high-speed broadband available to all, Prime Minister Hun Sen said yesterday. 
The prime minister also proposed that the Royal Group, a local conglomerate, partner with other  companies to make the Kingdom’s satellite dream a reality.
Addressing about 600 government officials, students and the private sector at the inauguration of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications’ new building, Mr. Hun Sen said there needed to be more development in the country’s telecommunication infrastructure, especially in satellite-delivered internet and internet delivered through submarine communications cables.
“I suggest that we should consider launching a Cambodia-owned satellite,” said Mr. Hun Sen in his speech.
Turning to Kith Meng, the chairman and CEO of Royal Group, who was in the audience, Mr. Hun Sen said: “We must check this issue, Okhna Kith Meng. 
“It is time to partner with other companies to have a satellite owned by Cambodia.
“When we have our own satellite, high-speed internet access can be delivered directly to small user-based terminals all around Cambodia. 
“Providing affordable high-speed internet access for Cambodia’s unconnected populations is a huge challenge and a big investment, but it can be done,” added the prime minister.
In 2011, Royal Blue Skies – a subsidiary of the Royal Group – received a concession from the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications to launch Cambodia’s first satellite that would deliver TV and internet to Cambodia and also to other Asean nations.
The Cambodian Satellite 1 project was set to take-off in 2013, with the satellite estimated to cost between $250 million and $350 million to build and launch into space.
“So far there has not been any progress on Cambodian Satellite 1, despite the ministry granting Royal Blue Skies a license to launch and put it into orbit,” Im Vutha, a spokesperson for the Telecom Regulator of Cambodia, told Khmer Times.
“The project needs a huge investment and it could be that the company does not have enough funds,” said Mr. Vutha.
Mr. Vutha said a new submarine telecoms cable due for completion in early 2017 will cost less than the satellite project and will also strengthen existing internet networks and increase capacity.
EZECOM, which owns Telcotech, is installing the 1,300-kilometer long Malaysia, Cambodia and Thailand (MCT) submarine cable, which will connect Sihanoukville with Rayong in Thailand and Kuantan in Malaysia.
“While the satellite project is important, the submarine cable has bigger capacity for transmitting and receiving high-speed data,” said Mr. Vutha.
Prakash Velayudhan, the chief technology officer at Telcotech, explained in a press conference in October that the MCT cable project was now 76 percent complete and will allow traffic of speeds of up to 100 gigabits per second, with an overall capacity of at least 30 terabits per second.
He said it will connect to the 20,000-kilometre-long Asia-America Gateway, which links the west coast of the United States with Southeast Asia.
The project was initially due to be completed by the end of 2015, but was then pushed back to December this year, before the latest announcement of early next year, said Mr. Velayudhan, blaming the delays on “administration processes” that were beyond the company’s control.
“Now I can say that we have overcome of all these and we have cleared all the permits, manufacturing, technical qualifications of the project and we are now at the final stages of the operation. 
“The thing is clear now and we can expect that in the first quarter of 2017 we will have the cable here.”

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