Cambodia’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications, Chea Vandeth, has announced government plans for a submarine cable connection from Hong Kong to Sihanoukville and Phnom Penh in 2024.
It will replace an earlier version – much earlier; it was connected more than a decade ago.
The funding for the new submarine cable will involve a loan from the Chinese government. In ten years’ time, the minister suggested during his announcement, the sale of internet services will repay the entirety of the loan. The project is to be implemented for 30 years, “so in addition to repaying the loan, we will make a profit”, he added.
In addition to connecting the submarine cable, he said that the telecommunications ministry is working to install up to 1,000 internet expansion antenna masts in several of Phnom Penh’s districts. It will also dismantle internet booster and repeater devices, which the ministry considers disruptive to internet speed.
As you might expect, Cambodian demand for internet services increased dramatically following the Covid-19 pandemic and yet the country has been dependent on infrastructure that was connected up to 15 years ago. Making Cambodia’s internet services faster and cheaper is certain to be popular, therefore.
According to figures cited by the Phnom Penh Post, as of February, Cambodia had more than 17 million registered SIM cards (a little more than the population, estimated at 16,891,245) and more than 310,000 fixed internet users.
The country has 38 internet service providers, and five onshore and submarine fibre optic infrastructure operators. There are an estimated 640 kilometres of submarine fibre optic cable in Cambodian waters.