Cambodia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Cambodia - Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband

Cambodia's telecom sector continues to grow, with the new industry regulator now playing a role

Cambodia's efforts to expand and upgrade its telecom infrastructure have been bearing fruit. This is despite its status as a least developed country and remaining one of the poorer countries in Southeast Asia. Cambodia has largely by-passed rebuilding the fixed-line market and quickly launched into alternative technologies, jump-starting its telecommunications infrastructure with digital technology. Not surprisingly, mobile services completely overwhelmed the market, at least initially. The roll-out of a variety of different network technologies has been more the pattern of late.

The Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications (MPTC) officially launched the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) in 2012. The move effectively transferred the regulatory role of the MPTC to the TRC, making the new authority responsible for the key areas of spectrum allocation and the regulation of pricing, among others. By 2015 the TRC was already playing a key role in the local telecom industry; there remained a significant range of regulatory and market issues still to be addressed, however.

In early 2015 the Cambodian and Chinese authorities signed a cooperation agreement regarding issues on telecoms and information and communications technology (ICT). While in late 2015 Cambodia's Council of Ministers approved a new draft telecommunications law, which is aimed at enhancing the regulation of the sector and improving service quality.

In recent years there have been between eight and ten mobile operators vigorously competing with each other in a crowded market segment that continued to grow at a healthy annual rate. By the end of 2015, there were over 25 million mobile subscribers.

The mobile market had started to go through some form of rationalisation by 2011. By that stage there were nine licensed operators. The number of operators dropped to eight in that year when the merger of two of the operators was approved by the authorities. Then, after a great deal of activity on this front in 2012, two major changes took place: the closure of financially struggling Mfone finally occurred in early 2013; and later that year Hello Axiata merged with Smart/Latelz to form a refreshed Smart Mobile. Importantly, the new, combined Smart emerged as the second largest of mobile operators, not far behind the market leader Viettel's Metfone. By 2015 there were six mobile operators, but three of these only had small subscriber numbers. In fact, the three major operators were claiming around 95% of the total subscriber base.

The limited fixed-line telephony growth that had come about in Cambodia earlier on had mainly been through investment under foreign assistance plans, focusing on the capital Phnom Penh. Subsequently, geographical coverage did not increase significantly for a decade or more.

The expansion of the internet in Cambodia has been largely overshadowed by the strong focus on mobile services. Internet take-up rates remained disconcertingly low for many years, with the country claiming one of the lowest internet penetrations in the region. The limited fixed-line infrastructure had been a major inhibiting factor in the roll-out of both dial-up and DSL internet services. The market started to shift in 2007 when wireless broadband services began to appear, offering an effective alternative fixed access service to DSL. By 2015, however, fixed broadband internet penetration remained extremely low. By contrast, mobile broadband was expanding rapidly at the same time boosting online activity generally; as with telephony, mobile services were again clearly filling the gap.'

In early 2015 SEATEL Cambodia announced plans to invest a total of US$500 million in the rollout and operation of a 4G network in Cambodia over the next few years.

Market highlights:

Mobile penetration had reached 167% by end-2015;
The number of mobile operators falling from nine in 2011 to just three major players by 2015;
Hello Axiata and Smart Mobile merged to form a refreshed Smart Mobile, presenting a serious challenger to Viettel's Metfone;
Smart Axiata had expanded its 4G LTE network to all 25 provinces of the country.
By 2015a teledensity of only 2.8% was reported;
The internet segment had also been struggling for some time;
The rapid expansion of mobile broadband access continues to breath life into this market segment;
There were around 2.3 million mobile broadband subscribers by 2015;
SEATEL Cambodia announced plans to invest a total of US$500 million in the rollout and operation of a 4G network
Viettel acquired a 50 percent stake in Sotelco, parent company of Beeline Cambodia.
Alcatel-Lucent and Chuan Wei signed an agreement to expand mobile broadband connectivity.

Cambodia - key telecom parameters 2012 - 2015
Category | 2012 | 2013 | 2015
Fixed-line services: | | |
Total No. of subscribers | 584,000 | 420,900 | 435,000
Internet services: | | |
Total No. of fixed broadband subscribers | 30,000 | 32,600 | 50,000
Mobile services: | | |
Total No. of subscribers | 19.1 million | 20.3 million | 25.6 million
(Source: BuddeComm)

This report provides an overview of the trends and developments in the telecommunications markets in Cambodia.

Subjects covered include:

Key statistics;
Market and industry overviews;
Major operators (mobile and fixed);
Regulatory environment;
Infrastructure;
Mobile market;
Internet market;
Broadband internet (fixed and mobile);
Telecom market scenario forecasts for subscribers (mobile, internet, fixed) for 2015 and 2020.
0Data in this report is the latest available at the time of preparation and may not be for the current year.


1. Executive summary
2. Key statistics
3. Country Overview
3.1 Background
3.2 Economy
4. Telecommunications market
4.1 Overview of Cambodia's telecom market
5. Regulatory environment
5.1 Regulatory authority
5.1.1 Ministry of Posts & Telecommunications (MPTC)
5.1.2 Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC)
5.1.3 Draft law tabled by MPTC
5.1.4 Huawei government business partner
5.2 Regulatory developments
5.2.1 New Draft Telecommunications Law
5.2.2 SIM Registration
5.2.3 Agreement with Chinese Government
5.2.4 VoIP
5.2.5 Dispute: Smart Axiata v. CadComms
5.2.6 Inactive licences
5.2.7 National broadband policy
5.2.8 3G service restrictions
6. Telecommunications infrastructure
6.1 National telecom network
6.2 Optical fibre networks
6.3 Mobile towers
6.4 Fixed-line operators
6.4.1 Telecom Cambodia
6.4.2 Viettel
6.4.3 Digi
6.5 International infrastructure
6.5.1 Greater Mekong Subregion Information Superhighway (GMS-IS)
6.5.2 Cambodian-Vietnamese Super Highway Telecoms Network
6.5.3 Proposed submarine cable
7. Internet and the broadband market
7.1 Overview
7.2 Background
7.3 Cloud Computing
7.4 Internet statistics
7.5 Forecasts Broadband services 2015; 2020
7.6 WiMAX
7.6.1 Overview
7.6.2 Digital Star
7.7 Long term evolution (LTE) network
7.7.1 Digital Star
7.7.2 Southeast Asia Telecommunications
7.7.3 Smart Axiata
7.7.4 Seatel
7.8 AngkorNet
8. Mobile communications
8.1 Overview of Cambodia's mobile market
8.2 Mobile statistics
8.3 Forecasts mobile services 2015; 2020
9. Major mobile operators
9.1 MobiTel (CamGSM)
9.1.1 Overview
9.1.2 Statistics
9.2 Mfone (CamShin)
9.2.1 Overview
9.2.2 Statistics
9.2.3 Uncertainty followed by Bankruptcy
9.3 Smart Axiata (formerly Hello Axiata)
9.4 AZ Communications
9.5 Metfone (Viettel)
9.6 CadComms (QB)
9.7 GT-Tell (Excell)
9.8 Smart Mobile (Latelz)
9.9 Applifone (Star Cell)
9.10 Beeline Cambodia (Sotelco)
9.11 CooTel (Xinwei)
10. Cambodia's broadcasting market
10.1 Overview
10.2 Cable TV
10.3 Satellite TV
11. Related reports
Table 1 Country statistics Cambodia 2015
Table 2 Telephone network statistics 2015
Table 3 Internet user statistics 2015
Table 4 Mobile statistics 2015
Table 5 National telecommunications authority
Table 6 Cambodia's GDP real growth rate 2006 - 2015
Table 7 Fixed lines in service and penetration 1995 - 2015
Table 8 Forecast fixed-line growth 2015; 2020
Table 9 Internet users, annual change and penetration 1997 - 2015
Table 10 Fixed internet subscribers 1999 - 2015
Table 11 Internet household penetration 2008 - 2015
Table 12 Fixed broadband subscribers 2005 - 2015
Table 13 Mobile broadband subscribers 2010 - 2015
Table 14 Total international internet bandwidth 1999 - 2015
Table 15 Forecast fixed broadband subscriber growth 2015; 2020
Table 16 Mobile subscribers, annual growth and penetration 1993 - 2015
Table 17 Mobile Operators and Systems
Table 18 Mobile subscribers and market share by operator 2013
Table 19 Mobile services sector estimated ARPU 1998 - 2012
Table 20 Forecast mobile subscriber growth 2015; 2020
Table 21 MobiTel (CamGSM) mobile subscribers 1998 - 2013
Table 22 MobiTel: 3G subscribers 2006 - 2013
Table 23 Historical - Mfone (CamShin) mobile subscribers 1998 - 2012
Table 24 Mfone 3G subscribers 2012 - 2013
Table 25 Smart Axiata: mobile subscribers 1998 - 2013
Table 26 Smart Axiata: 3G subscribers 2012 - 2013
Table 27 Metfone (Viettel) mobile subscribers 2009 - 2013
Table 28 Cadcomms (QB) mobile (3G) subscribers 2008 - 2013
Table 29 Historical - Smart Mobile subscribers 2011 - 2012
Table 30 Smart Mobile (Latelz): 3G subscribers 2012 - 2013
Table 31 Historical - Applifone (Star Cell) subscribers 2008 - 2009
Table 32 Beeline Cambodia subscribers 2009 - 2013
Table 33 Beeline Cambodia's ARPU 2011 - 2013
Table 34 Key broadcasting statistics 2013
Chart 1 - Fixed lines in service and penetration 2006-2015
Chart 2 - Internet users and annual change - 2006-2015
Chart 3- Mobile market subscribers and penetration 2005 - 2015

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