PHNOM PENH — Communications technology continues to boom in Cambodia, providing cheaper Internet for an increasing number of users. The number of Internet Service Providers is now 24, increasing competition and lower prices for and expanding number of consumers.
That has coincided with the rise of smart phones, tablets and other devices that are putting more and more Cambodians online and mobile.
“In the last three or four years, the Internet price is less expensive,” said Kouy Sonak, of AngkorNet, a major service provider. Improved technology “means Internet user can easily access the Internet,” he said.
Between 2007 and 2009, most Internet was for business, or accessed in shops, said Neak Longkean, a marketing manager at Digi, an ISP. But cheaper high-speed Internet has put information in the hands of individuals these days, he said.
The government now estimates there are 2.7 million Internet users today, up from about 320,000 in 2010, when the online expansion really took off. Total revenue for Internet use is now worth about $1.4 million, according to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications. About 98 percent of users are mobile, either via satellite networks or wi-fi connections, the ministry says.
Prices have come down for home users, with prices as low as $12 per month for high-speed Internet, said Van Cuong, a sales manager at OpenNet, another ISP.
Moa Chkrya, chairman of the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia, said Internet connections are “almost everywhere,” especially wi-fi.
Keo Udom, co-founder of a website called Porpok, told VOA Khmer that the Internet is a part of daily life for him. If the prices continue to fall, “it gives Cambodian users a lot of advantages,” he said.
Aside from tablets and smart phones, Cambodians can go online in more than 300 Internet cafes in Phnom Penh alone. At a coffee shop called Brown in the capital, Chang Bunleang, a managing partner, said cafes like this one need an Internet connection. "A lower price would be good for businesses that have come to rely not only a Web connection, but also database systems, web hosting and data centers," he said.
Chak Sopheab, a program director at the Cambodian Center for Human Rights, said Internet access is “essential” for many Cambodians, especially the young, to help them become more involved in society and their studies.