Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Cambodia launches new backbone as part of regional fibre project

by Tony Chan
July 21, 2009

Telecom Cambodia has inaugurated a new national fibre backbone that connects from the country’s south western coast at Kampong Cham to the Laos border in the country’s north. The new link is the country’s second major fibre backbone and will be interconnected to an existing fibre backbone linking Bavet on the Cambodia-Vietnam border via the capital Phnom Penh to Poipet on the Cambodia-Thai border.

According to the Cambodia’s national newspaper, Phnom Penh Post, the new 650 kilometre link was launched last week and offers an initial capacity of 620 Mbps, according to the report in by the Phnom Penh Post.

“Telecom Cambodia hopes to continue developing other high-speed information links, including the Internet, using optical fibre ... and landlines on the existing network to efficiently provide Internet services,” Lao Sarouen, director general at Telecom Cambodia said at a launching ceremony last week.

Sarouen added that the new infrastructure now provides high speed network coverage to two thirds of the country. Huawei Technologies was cited as the supplier for the network.

According to Sarouen, the new link also marks the completion of the country’s role in a major regional project called the GMS ISN (Greater Mekong subregion Information Superhighway Network) – a multi-year Asia Development Bank project first launched in 2005 to build a fibre optical regional network connecting Cambodia, China, Laos, Myanmar, Vietnam and Thailand.
GMS MOU: The original GMS cable project MoU was signed in July 2005 between The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications of the Kingdom of Cambodia, China Telecom, Enterprise of Telecommunications Laos, Myanmar Posts and Telecommunications, CAT Telecom, and Viet Nam Posts and Telecommunications Corporations, according to a copy of the MoU document on the Asian Development Bank website.

According to Cambodia’s Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon the GMS project was initiated by China in its July 2005 Kunming Declaration and has a projected cost of US$66 million, the Post reported. Keat Chhon added that the GMS ISN project had outlined three phases, the first of which is to construct national fibre backbones in the six GMS countries. That phases is now complete, he told the paper.

Subsequent phases will link up the national backbones into a regional ring between the countries.
“The GMS project will help strengthen cooperation between people and the GMS countries and will boost Cambodia's economy and the regional economy,” Keat Chhon said. “It will also help Cambodia improve its ICT standard in the near future.”

COMPETING GMS CABLE? Meanwhile, a Thai company, Connectsia Limited has reportedly entered into a joint venture with Electricite du Laos to build a new fibre system connecting Laos, China, Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

According to a report by the Lao news agency (KPL), the two companies have signed a MoU in which the Thai company will laid a cable from China to Luang Prabang province and Vientiane Capital in Laos, with further links to Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore. The MoU allows Connectsia to use the electricity poles of Electricite du Laos for rolling out its network.

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