Is Cambodia Ready for Smart Cities and 5G?

Internet users in Cambodia can soon enjoy ultra-fast internet that hits speeds of between 1 and 10Gbps after internet service provider SINET teamed up with global communications giant Nokia to deploy its XGS Passive Optical Network technology.
A mobile Internet user in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa
A mobile Internet user in Phnom Penh. Kiripost/Siv Channa

Cambodia is gearing up to welcome ultra-fast gigabit broadband internet to power smart cities and provide 5G backhauling after SINET became the first internet service provider (ISP) to deploy Nokia’s XGS Passive Optical Network (PON) technology and completed an upgrade of its fiber access nodes.

“Nokia has received the Type Approval of XGS-PON equipment from the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia, which proves to us the quality of the solution and the readiness to deploy in the Cambodian market,” said Diep Kong, SINET‘s Chief Technology Officer, in a joint statement with the global communications company.

As data and Internet of Things (IoT) connectivity form crucial parts of Cambodia’s smart cities, demand for ultra-high-speed broadband is growing. Phnom Penh, Battambang, Siem Reap and Sihanoukville are among Cambodia’s smart cities.

End-users of artificial intelligence (AI), augmented reality (AR), and the metaverse will need to access ultra-high-speed internet capable of delivering speeds of up to 1Gbps. In Cambodia, the highest Internet bandwidth enterprises can currently access is up to 800Mbps.

Yet this year’s complete Nokia’s next generation technology deployment could allow the Cambodian ISP to provide gigabit and multi-gigabit services.

“We’re ready for smart city projects and a 5G network backbone,” said Kong in a recent interview.

Heng Chulsa, a Country Manager at Lastmile Works, which provides metaverse-related services using computer graphics (CG) and extended reality (xR) technologies, told Kiripost this week, “AR and the metaverse depend heavily on the internet and internet access, so 5G, which is 100 times faster than 4G, will be very important for every aspect of our lives.”

“The revolution of the metaverse will increase the average data usage to 20 times what we are seeing today by 2032,” Credit Suisse predicted in a recent report.

Nokia Head for Thailand and Cambodia, Ajay Sharma, said, “Industry-leading XGS-PON solution will allow SINET to improve the overall speed and quality of broadband for its enterprise users. The enterprise users will benefit from an increase in network capacity, speed, and reliability."

Kong added, “We are upgrading to XGS-PON technology and keeping a partnership with Nokia. Internet users could get higher bandwidth [and] more reliable connections. Customers will not worry about the internet network congestion anymore.”

“Customers are able to use the service from now on. We are already activated in our network for a few areas. We can activate other areas anytime once there is a requirement, while we already have equipment in stock ready to deploy for customers,” he explained.

In 2019, the Cambodian ISP expanded into the residential market using Nokia's high-speed fiber. “We worked with Nokia for some years back already with GPON technology,” said Kong.

SINET provides backbone services to enterprise users and mobile telecommunications companies, which will then be able to introduce 5G to end-users, once approved by the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC).

Mobile telecommunications company Smart Axiata ran its first live trial showcase of the fifth-generation technology for broadband mobile Internet (5G) with Huawei Technologies in mid 2019.

In late 2020, Royal Group’s Cellcard signed a framework agreement with ZTE to introduce 5G to its mobile internet subscribers.

In Thailand, despite the pandemic, the Southeast Asian country is leading the 5G rollout.

Thailand is leading the 5G rollout.
Thailand is leading the 5G rollout.

Worldwide “5G will account for as many as 1.2 billion connections by 2025”, according to the GSM Association.

When asked about the availability of SpaceX’s Starlink satellite internet service for Cambodia next year, Kong told Kiripost, “We don't compete with Starlink. We use different technologies.”