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Cambodia prepares the killing fields of telecoms

Cambodia has drafted a law mandating all telcos “selling” their infrastructure including towers and underground cables to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia (MPTC). Subsequently, all operators surrender their licenses too. The government will decide how the access service providers will make reentry to their dispossessed infrastructure. And these draconian terms will be planted in the licenses the government will reinvent.

But licences and infrastructure are not all that is at risk with the government’s proposed reforms: One clause states explicitly that the MPTC will use the telecom sector as a tool to maintain social order.

“To ensure the effective security, national stability and public order, the minister of the MPTC has the right to order operators to transfer their systems, which control their telecom operations, to the Ministry.”

Telecommunications companies found to be in breach of the MPTC’s new suite of regulations could incur fines from $120,000 and up to $750,000, according to the draft document, with company executives’ even facing jail time if found guilty of operating outside of the law.

That’s in a nut-shell the government’s master plan to turn Cambodia into a regulatory minefield, as Pnom Penh Post elaborates.

Cambodia is the only coastal country in South East Asia that remains unconnected to a submarine cable. It wasted the chance of joining Asia-America Gateway (AAG) submarine cable, as described in page 51 of this report of ESCAP. This study was released in ESCAP’s “Expert Group Consultation on Asian Information Superhighway and Regional Connectivity” on September 25, 2013 in Manila.

Cambodia’s regulator has proudly presented his country’s broadband initiatives and future plan in Manila. I find it utterly ludicrous today. I am also skeptic about any meaningful outcome from Asia Submarine-cable Express (ASE), Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand or Asia Africa Europe-1 (AAE-1) undersea cable initiatives of Cambodia. It will be my great pleasure to be proven wrong!

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