Local conglomerate Royal Group and Beijing-based China Great Wall Industry Corporation are set to conduct a feasibility study on the launch of a Cambodian-owned satellite, according to a senior official from the Telecom Regulator of Cambodia (TRC).
TRC’s spokesman Im Vutha, told Khmer Times yesterday that Royal Group is now working with China Great Wall Industry Corporation. “Once the feasibility study is completed, both companies will submit the results to the government for approval,” he said. “This is the first stage and if there is support from government, we could launch our own satellite next year. However, it is up to the feasibility study.”
Vutha said the government will then draw up plans to launch the satellite and Royal Group will manage the project with support from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. In 2011, Royal Blue Skies – a subsidiary of the Royal Group – received a concession from the ministry to launch Cambodia’s first satellite that would deliver TV and internet to Cambodia and also to other ASEAN nations. The Cambodian Satellite 1 project was set to take off in 2013, with the satellite estimated to cost between $250 million and $350 million to build and launch into space.
Vutha said the ministry will hold discussions with government agencies and relevant stakeholders next month to gauge market demand for satellite communication services before selecting the satellite transponder. The potential market for satellite communication services is in e-government, national security services, disaster management systems, digital broadcasting and satellite broadband.
According to the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, establishing internet connectivity via satellite one of the prioritised projects in the Telecom Policy (2015 -2020) to provide urban areas in the country 100 percent broadband coverage and 70 percent broadband coverage in rural areas. “When we select the satellite transponder, we will choose the size of the satellite and decide on the investment capital and the date to launch it,” said Vutha. “We will do it fast as Prime Minister Hun Sen wants Cambodia to have its own satellite.”
Last December, Hun Sen proposed that the Royal Group partner with other companies to make the kingdom’s satellite dream a reality. He said that Cambodia should have its own satellite to make high-speed broadband available to all. The premier made comment during the inauguration of the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications’ new building. He said that said there needed to be more development in the country’s telecommunication infrastructure, especially in satellite-delivered internet and internet delivered through submarine communications cables.
“I suggest that we should consider launching a Cambodia-owned satellite,” said Hun Sen in his speech. “When we have our own satellite, high-speed internet access can be delivered directly to small user-based terminals all around Cambodia. Providing affordable high-speed internet access for Cambodia’s unconnected populations is a huge challenge and a big investment, but it can be done.”