5G is coming to Cambodia in the ‘near future’, says minister

5G is coming to Cambodia in the ‘near future’, says minister

Cambodia’s Minister of Posts and Telecommunication has reportedly promised that the ministry is preparing to launch 5G technology in in the “near future” to support the country’s digital ambitions.

According to the Khmer Times, MPT minister Chea Vandeth, said the ministry has been hammering out a policy that will give operators access to the required 100 MHz of spectrum to run 5G networks.

Speaking at the First Digital Government Forum and Digital Technology Expo in Phnom Pehn on Monday, Vandeth said the ministry is committed to connecting the entire country with 5G, although he didn’t give a timeline for that commitment.

“Cambodia will consider launching 5G technology at an appropriate time in the near future,” Vandeth is quoted as saying.

In the meantime, the MPT is continuing to promote 4G mobile and Internet services, especially for schools, health centres, communes and police stations, the report said.

This is not the first time the MPT has promised 5G was around the corner. Cambodian operators Metfone, Smart Axiata and CamGSM (a.k.a. Cellcard) conducted 5G trials between 2018 and 2020, only for the MPT to retract their trial licences in 2020 – ostensibly over concerns that it would be wasteful and inefficient for everyone to build their own 5G infrastructure.

In 2021, according to media reports, Vandeth said more or less the same thing – the ministry was studying 5G and working on a policy to allocate spectrum for it.

What may be different this time is that mobile internet usage has surged in Cambodia in the last few years, spurred by the COVID pandemic, which is putting the country’s 4G networks under increasing pressure.

The report notes that Vandeth framed his 5G comments in the context of building up digital infrastructure in Cambodia, which he described as a top priority for the ministry.

At the same forum this week, Cambodian Prime Minister Hun Manet hailed the country’s progress in digitalisation. Hun cited statistics that digital payments in Cambodia reached about US$492 billion at the end of 2023, which he said was around 16 times the country’s GDP.

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