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IT & Communications in Cambodia

As Cambodia’s development progresses and its youth and businesses get to grips with the available and emerging technologies, the Information Technology sector is one that is seen as having exponential growth and opportunity.

Demand for the internet, mobile phones and other forms of technologies continue to increase, with the youthful population and entrepreneurs realising the future potential in this area

Cambodia also skipped past landlines and moved quickly to adopt smartphones and embrace the internet with one of the highest mobile phone and internet penetrations in the region.

Here’s an overview of the telecommunications market in Cambodia, including mobile operators, internet service providers and the variety of computer equipment available.

Updated May 2020

  • Internet subscribers in Cambodia have grown from 320,000 in 2010 to over 9 million by 2020.
  • However, Cambodia’s first undersea cable was launched in March 2017. The 1,300-kilometre-long Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable connects the three countries to the existing Asia-America Gateway (AAG), a pan-Pacific submarine cable system that links Southeast Asia to the United States. The project was carried out by Telcotech, a subsidiary of Ezecom, in cooperation with other international telcos.
  • A second cable installed by the Cambodia Fibre Optic Cable Network (CFOCN) to connect the Kingdom to the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1) cable, which links Southeast Asia with Europe launched in 2017.
  • In 2019, China’s Huawei announced a plan, in partnership with China Communications Construction Co, to install an undersea fibre-optic communications cable connecting Sihanoukville and Hong Kong.
  • Yet, while the subterranean cables have improved the overall quality of connections, problems still arise. Events such as blackouts and fires can occur that can cause the fibre optic cables to stop working without notice.
  • The telecoms sector continues to be competitive, as does the ISP market, meaning options are increasing while prices are being driven down. In 2019, as part of the Cambodian government’s Industry 4.0 strategy, 2,000km of metro and regional fibre optic backbone networks to provide wider coverage in major cities, suburbs and rural areas were announced.
  • Cambodia’s mobile operators are aggressively building out their 5G networks by 2020. 4G was first launched in Cambodia in 2016.
  • The country’s three major providers are Cellcard, Metfone and Smart Axiata.
    There are expected to be six 5G operators in Cambodia in 2020, with 22 million SIM-card subscribers among them at the end of 2019 and around 16 million users of mobile and fixed internet.
  • Mobile operators offer access to the Internet via their networks, either directly to your telephone, to your computer by using your telephone as a wireless modem (Hotspot), or via a USB dongle.
  • Cambodia is still known for its heavy reliance on bootlegged software. However, industry insiders report that attitudes on this might be changing with a rapidly increasing number of companies choosing to buy original software. They are also embracing more cloud-based services such as Google Suite or Office 365.
  • Fixed broadband penetration is predicted to reach over 2% by 2023 in Cambodia.
    The number of fixed telephone lines in Cambodia is slowly declining.
  • Since the undersea cables were first laid in 2017, Cambodia’s internet has been more reliable than in the past. It is also very easy to jump on free Wi-Fi in the city centres as many cafes, bars, restaurants offer it for free.
  • According to Ookla, which measures global internet performances, Cambodia in March 2020 ranked around 100 in the world for mobile internet and 2019 for Fixed Broadband.
  • The price of mobile data is quite affordable in Cambodia and many users use multiple sim cards. Businesses also change ISP’s depending on package deals as they often don’t require a year or fixed period buy-in.
  • The internet speeds in the city and urban centres such as Phnom Penh, Siem Reap, Sihanoukville etc are more reliable as they are more developed.
  • Metfone is often regarded as having the widest coverage in Cambodia for data and mobile internet usage but Cellcard has won the Ookla Speedtest Award for 4 years from 2017-2020.
  • The latest data on Cambodia internet usage, social media and mobile connections can be seen here.
  • The major mobile phone providers operating in Cambodia are Cellcard, Smart, Metfone. 
  • Foreigners are required to show a copy of their passport and visa to buy a registered SIM card.
  • Unregistered SIM cards can be bought from a number of small stalls that line the streets. However, the government announced in 2016 that telecom operators were banned from selling pre-activated SIM cards to consumers. The crackdown on unregistered SIM cards is aimed at reducing criminal activity and protecting national security.
  • The most popular option is pre-paid accounts, with credit again available from multiple street stallholders.
  • The Cambodian mobile telcos offer a range of services and packages, some of which can be confusing with deals such as 10X data or call minutes not uncommon.
  • There are several options available to access the internet depending on your needs. Connecting to the Internet can be done through a fixed connection from an ISP or a mobile connection from a telephone operator.
  • ISPs offer fixed Internet connections, usually either as ADSL, copper or fibre optic.
  • Prices for fixed connections vary depending on speed and data limits. Fibre connections prices are more expensive than ADSL but they seem to go down every month. 
  • Opennet, Online, Digi, and Ezecom and some of the more popular ISP services. SINET, a Cambodian ISP specialising in the business and enterprise sector (offering an FTTH network).
  • Mobile operators offer access to the Internet 4G networks (5G is coming in 2020), either directly to your telephone, to your computer by using your telephone as a wireless modem, or via a dongle.
  • This is a fast-moving industry and innovative packages and services are being upgraded all of the time.
  • There are an increasing number of retail stores in Cambodia that sell, maintain and repair computers, especially at the big shopping malls like AEON.
  • Some are accredited retailers and resellers for major brands such as Apple, Dell, Acer and HP.
  • Computer equipment is competitively priced for Asia, though this seems to vary by brand.
  • If you require repairs or maintenance, some of the major retailers such as Anana and PTC have authorised service centres and good levels of English.
  • Mac users are also well served and the country now has a number of authorised service providers, including Uni Young and iOne.
  • Computers in Cambodia are also prone to failure given the heat, dust and humidity, so maintaining them can take some extra work.
  • Most buildings in Cambodia are not earthed and voltage can vary a great deal, potentially damaging computers.
  • Use a voltage stabiliser with Uninterruptible Power Supply (UPS) to alleviate this risk if computers are important to your business.
  • When purchasing goods that come with a warranty, be warned there are several shops falsely claiming to be accredited to authorised brands. Best to check the reputation of the stores, online comments are a good guideline albeit not perfect.
  • For international warranties, if a laptop is bought in the United States and you want to come to Cambodia, you may need to send a request to transfer the warranty. However again these services are constantly being improved in Cambodia.
  • Also, remember that having to have parts sent to other countries to be repaired can mean a long wait for them to be fixed and returned – sometimes up to eight weeks.
  • There are many shops in Cambodia that falsely claim to be accredited to authorised brands, which can mean trouble for consumers when it comes to warranties.
  • Things are changing, however, people have increased confidence that products are not copied any more.
  • If you are dealing with a registered, authorised dealer, the product is probably genuine in Cambodia.
  • Internet security in Cambodia is no more a major issue than elsewhere. Proper due diligence and security measures should be practised. 
  • Caution must be taken when having software or operating systems installed on your computer as in many cases they will be pirated and illegal to use.
  • Such software may not allow updates and consequently, any problems you may have can continue to persist throughout the life of the software.
  • Use a reliable antivirus programme, keep it updated and remember viruses are especially prevalent at Internet cafés and easily or transferred via a USB device.
  • Backup data regularly, whether to a DVD or hard drive or to one of the many available cloud computing services such as Dropbox, Google Drive or Microsoft’s OneDrive etc.
  • In 2012, the Cambodian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) launched the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) to regulate the sector.
  • The new Law on Telecommunications was promulgated on 17 December 2015 and seeks to regulate the telecommunications sector. It addresses issues such as management competence, use of infrastructure and networks and standards of service.
  • With the many mobile phone operators and ISPs operating across the country, it is imperative that the ministry is effective in managing disputes between providers, allowing confidence to grow among investors.
  • With so much happening in Cambodia’s telecoms landscape in such a short period of time, the TRC was previously criticised by some for not keeping up or failing to operate in a completely independent manner.
  • Telecom Cambodia is Cambodia’s principal telecommunications company but with the introduction of the TRC, its position of authority is likely to change as the aim is for the regulator to be an independent body, separate from the Ministry and Telecom Cambodia.

See more details by visiting mptc.gov.kh.

  • There is a range of software solutions in Cambodia to help businesses to run smoothly.
  • International software is easily available to purchase, but it’s still common to select grey-market software to be installed from many computer shops in Cambodia.
  • These range from payroll and HR systems to accounting systems, billing systems, point-of-sales systems, hospitality management systems, enterprise resource planning, and customer databases.
  • More local tech companies are offering Khmer and English based software and local tools for communications, remote working and more, app development and more.
  • While there is still a lack of well-trained developers in the country, universities have started adding mobile app development and similar courses to their curriculum to cater for the growing interest in the field.
  • Some back-end technology courses specialising in servers, operating systems, hardware, email servers, web servers, software and operating system security are also increasingly being offered.
  • Digital courses and IT courses offered by specialist facilities like STEP IT Academy, who is the biggest Microsoft, Cisco, Autodesk authorized learning centre in Cambodia is helping improve the skill base in Cambodia.
  • Mobile apps, programming, 3D animations and website development are just a few things Cambodia is demonstrating a talent for.
  • TosFUND, Cambodia’s first-ever crowdfunding platform, and BookMeBus, a website to buy bus, boat and other transportation tickets, are some of the home-grown startups that have been recognized both nationally and regionally.
  • Another example is the Khmer Smart Keyboard—a typing app for smartphones, which EZECOM has supported. 
  • Non-profit and NGOs such as USAID’s Cambodia Development Innovations increase female participation in the Cambodian technology field.
  • USAID and many others within the industry believe more women in the technology field promotes gender equality as well as innovation and development within the industry.
  • There are a variety of tech startup companies in Cambodia that are involved in application development, looking to be industry disruptors and tackle Industry 4.0 in Cambodia.
  • There are more tech conferences around Cambodia involving these like-minded business people and angel investor pitches and competitions.

IT Top Tips for Cambodia

Here’s how to get the most out of IT in Cambodia, according to our experts.

  • The cheapest may not be the best when it comes to choosing an internet provider. Do some research into company reviews and customer service.
  • Cheap connections are slower than what some might be used to outside of Cambodia.
  • It sometimes pays to get slightly more pricey connections to get internet services with world-class speed and quality and customer service. 
  • Keep an eye on promotions and deals as there are many each year especially around the major national holidays.
  • There is a talent pool available when it comes to general IT and computer programming in, with coding and designing gaining strength in Cambodia.
  • New university graduates might need mentoring, as in any country, but there is an eagerness to learn in the right environment.
  • Due to the nature of change in technology, it’s important to have a team that is willing to upskill and learn the latest technologies available to stay relevant.
  • Invest in your team’s knowledge, but be careful, as poaching of talent does happen, like in any competitive and developing country.

The Internet in Cambodia

All you need to know about the internet and how to stay connected with the best services for your business in Cambodia.

  • The country’s first undersea cable was launched in March 2017. The 1,300-kilometre-long Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand (MCT) cable connects the three countries to the existing Asia-America Gateway (AAG)
  • Internet service providers have worked hard to improve the speed and quality of connections and these improvements are thanks to advancements in the use of fibre optic cables and other technologies.
  • Although it’s not always easy to track all the relevant players in the market, this list has several ISP providers in Cambodia listed.
  • Ookla’s Speed Test also provided great updates on the connectivity and speeds of broadband and mobile internet in Cambodia.
  • Most Cambodian ISPs provide unlimited data, however, the bandwidth or speed is usually packaged.
  • By the end of 2019, Cambodia had 16.7 million mobile internet users and 215,000 fixed broadband connections.
  • Fixed Internet connections usually come in the form of ADSL, copper or fibre optic. Prices for fixed connections vary depending on speed and data limits.
  • With ISPs competing in the market, prices for fixed Internet connections are continuing to fall as access speeds improve.
  • Companies with specific requirements, such as maintaining connectivity throughout a branch network or between local and international headquarters can avail themselves of a number of premium services.
  • These include, virtual private networks (VPNs), local loops, and international private leased circuits. Those with critical documentation should also consider off-site data storage and disaster recovery services.
  • Fixed connections are more stable though and mobile connections are clearly advantageous if your business requires you to be on the move. 
  • ADSL connections are generally less affected by weather conditions and many operators now offer fibre optic connections, a more reliable option, though they are often priced at a premium.
  • Mobile operators offer access to the Internet via 3G and 4G and soon 5G networks, either directly to your telephone, to your computer by using your telephone as a wireless modem, or via a USB dongle.
  • Smart Mobile 4G launched Cambodia’s first 4G service in January 2014. 4G LTE (Long Term Evolution) is a wireless communication standard that is specially designed for mobile data network speeds up to 15mbps.
  • For low volume users, mobile data connections can be a very cost-effective way to access the Internet.
  • Cambodia is home to a predominantly young population with rapidly increasing access to the Internet. This has spawned a new generation of techies who are leading what is hoped will be a technology and mobile industry boom 
  • The Cambodian government is pushing for a strong transition to embrace Industry 4.0 – which relies on new and emerging technology that requires an ecosystem for supporting and maintaining fast growth.
  • Easy access to the internet has opened up a world of opportunities to Cambodia’s younger generation. Many of whom have snapped up the skills needed to develop innovative mobile apps, programmes and other technology and IT-related initiatives. 
  • University and college degrees within the industry have been developed and now cater for a range of subjects within the sector.
  • There is a great sense of entrepreneurship and tech and fintech startups have been growing since 2018. There are also more tech working spaces as well as angel investors looking to invest in innovative tech disruptors in Cambodia.
  • More companies are also embracing technology and steering away from traditional methods, or merging the two. Web development is one example, aside from only having a presence on social media like Facebook, e-commerce, SEO and digital content and marketing are all growing.

Phones and Networks in Cambodia

Everything you need to know to get the landline and mobile phones in Cambodia and how the telecommunications industry is developing in the Kingdom.

  • Mobile phones are a vital part of Cambodia’s economy and are widely available, new and second-hand.
  • Most mobile phone networks offer 3G and 4G (and in 2020, 5G) subscription packages that range in price depending on data and call allowances. 
  • While rural phone coverage in Cambodia can be patchy, especially in the most remote parts, mobile phone networks are expanding to provide as wide a range of service as possible.
  • Internet services and apps such as Skype, Viber, WhatsApp and Zoom are also popular options for people wanting to connect with others abroad. 
  • Many Cambodian networks also offer cheap calls to landlines abroad – often costing significantly less than calling someone on another operator in Cambodia so it is worth checking the prices if you plan on using your mobile to make a number of international calls.
  • Many mobile operators in Cambodia now have competitive roaming call and data rates for travelling in Asia, meaning you don’t need to replace your SIM card when travelling abroad in the region. This often requires activation so contact the provider to check.
  • Many mobile operators in Cambodia will as standard have apps and partner benefits and online or app-exclusive promotions and prizes.
  • The latest figures in 2019, suggest Cambodia SIM card users number 19.4 million, which is 120 per cent of its total population, whereas there are 88,157 landline users. So yes Cambodia has more mobile phones than people. 
  • It’s also very common for many businesses and individuals to have multiple phone numbers, with SIMs for each major network.
  • The majority of mobile phone users opt for pre-paid or pay as you go connections where credit is purchased from licensed shops and roadside vendors or online.
  • Top-up cards are available but most operators offer top-ups online and via apps and accounts can also be topped up at some ATMs.
  • Most operators offer discounted top ups and promotions at regular intervals, especially around Cambodian public holidays.
  • Telephone credit also has an expiry date – usually valid for a month though higher value top-up often has later expiry dates.
  • Post-paid packages are also available from many operators and can offer free calls within the same network for a small monthly fee.
  • However, because credit control is in its infancy in Cambodia, large customers must present a guarantee letter while individuals are expected to pay a deposit for the handset.
  • Some operators also offer free SMSs, data and even a limited number of free international calls. It’s a very competitive space and there are always new deals to entice customers.
  • Some business packages are popular as they come with a series of options, such as closed user groups offering free calls between employees. Although the advancement of communication apps and online services has dented this market.
  • Landline telephones are not as popular as mobile (cellular) phones in Cambodia.
  • Some businesses do opt for landlines and connections to the Internet using ADSL require subscribers to have a landline.
  • A landline will incur monthly costs and a one-off installation fee.
  • If you are travelling within the region, several mobile phone operators offer both prepaid and postpaid roaming services.
  • Charges for the service vary considerably from country to country as they are generally levied by the operator in whichever country you are visiting, but the rates have become very competitive for the region.
  • Data roaming (GPRS and/or 3G/4G/5G) and SMS roaming services are also available from operators.
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