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Telecoms ministry sets priority works to solve service issues

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Traffic passes borey gated housing complexes in Phnom Penh's Meanchey district. Hong Menea

Telecoms ministry sets priority works to solve service issues

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications on July 8 presented an overview of shortcomings related to mobile and internet connectivity nationwide, with a focus on gated residential communities, and set out a list of priority works to remedy the issue.

The three-page notice comes after years of complaints, and categorises the issues by type of service – mobile or internet – with a special section for the gated communities known locally as “borey”.

With regard to mobile phone service, the ministry attributed connectivity issues to, among other things, an increase in the number of high-rises and data consumption; technology and equipment that is outdated or not sanctioned by the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC); and reductions in the capacity of transmitters and receivers to trim costs.

For internet service, poor connectivity is often the result of internet traffic that exceeds the bandwidth capacity provided by the internet service provider (ISP) – which may be lower than contracted with customers. This became an increasingly common trend during the Covid-19 pandemic.

The ministry also blamed fibre-optic cables, which may be low-quality or affected by development along major roads.

In borey, issues largely arise as a result of improper underground telecommunications infrastructure and unsuitable locations for base stations. Residents have gone so far as to protest the installation of base stations, citing health hazards or effects on property values.

The notice said that, in response to complaints, the ministry had created five regional working groups to inspect and gather data on base stations nationwide, many of which operators have neglected to provide information on, despite the ministry’s “numerous requests”.

It added hat the ministry “has obtained all data about site locations, equipment, and [the] technology operators use … [and] will push for equipment and technology upgrades and additional base station construction for a better quality of service”.

The ministry also formed eight working groups “to improve the quality of service in Phnom Penh boreys. These groups will terminate any exclusive agreements for ISPs and seek cooperation from borey owners to enhance the quality of service.

“Five Drive Test devices have been purchased to measure service quality. Results of these tests will be provided to operators to encourage them to improve services or make additional investments.

“[Additionally, the] MPTC Speed Test mobile application has been launched for consumers to measure the speed of mobile and internet services themselves and to file any complaint to TRC,” the notice said.

It added that the ministry’s “Prakas on Telecommunications Quality of Service” is set to be rolled out soon “to impose obligations on operators to improve the quality of their telecommunications services and networks, thereby protecting consumer interests”.

The ministry called on the public to stop using signal boosters and repeaters “because these tools cause interference and affect the quality of services”, and warned against importing types of these devices that have not received approval from the TRC, “to avoid legal actions”.

It reaffirmed its commitment to “eliminating passive and negative activities in the telecom sector by enforcing the Law on Telecommunications and relevant regulations”.

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