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Smart Axiata awaits go ahead to launch 5G network

Poovenraj Kanagaraj / Khmer Times Share:
Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt speaks at the company’s first 5G live trial in July. KT/Siv Channa

Smart Axiata is ready to roll out its 5G network and is waiting for the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to provide clarity on the way forward on this matter, which includes the authorisation to launch 5G commercial services in the Kingdom, the head of the company said.

Smart Axiata CEO Thomas Hundt told the Khmer Times that everything is set for the big launch but that they must first secure authorisation and a licence from the ministry.

“We are engaging with the ministry very frequently. Talks are under way to see what is necessary from their perspective to obtain authorisation and necessary approvals for the associated spectrum,” Mr Hundt said.

“Cambodia does not yet have a satellite in orbit which puts the country in a privileged position,” he said, explaining that having a satellite increases the amount of due process that must be carried out to release C-band spectrum for 5G mobile services, which is a problem other countries in the region are facing.

“Because of this, 5G services could potentially be launched very soon, allowing Cambodia to become a 5G pioneer in Asean, Mr Hundt said.

“I hope the due process will be expedited. We will certainly work together with the relevant stakeholders to make 5G in Cambodia a reality soon,” Mr Hundt said. He believes Smart and the ministry have the same desire to see the Kingdom become one of the first countries to launch the service in the region.

To date, the ministry has yet to publicly release a timeline on when 5G may be available in the Kingdom. All three major mobile operators are already conducting trials, whereby Smart was the first telco in the country to showcase 5G live in July this year.

“If we want to be the first in Asean, we need to get it done by the first quarter of 2020 or else we would have missed the train,” he said while explaining that Singapore has recently announced their plans, while Thailand and Vietnam are also racing to be the first.

Mr Hundt touted the benefits that the new service will bring to Cambodians but was also cautious.

“5G will definitely unlock a lot more capacity that will allow consumers to enjoy high definition videos, online gaming, cloud gaming, e-sports and enable industrial and smart city applications to work smoothly, which is less possible with 4G.” he said.

“While the prospects are abundant, we also have to be realistic. Opportunities will only roll out over time and not immediately. For us at Smart, we will continue investing massively to improve our existing 4.5G mobile broadband connectivity across the Kingdom while in parallel prepare for the next generation of 5G mobile networks,” he said.

Mr Hundt noted that the rollout will require huge investment and new content as well as applications will need to be developed. And that manufacturers are already working to produce 5G compatible handsets at a lower price.

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