A project to build submarine cable network between Sihanoukville, a coastal city in southern Cambodia, and Hong Kong is to be completed in July 2025, according to regional press reports.
Local news resource Khmer Times says China’s Unicom Group has signed a deal with the Cambodian Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications to implement the project which will give Cambodia its first state-owned submarine optical fibre cable.
Massively boosting the country’s capacity for international communications, the submarine optical fibre cable, plans for which were announced earlier this year by Cambodia’s Minister of Post and Telecommunications, will be nearly 3,000 kilometres long.
Unicom has some experience in this area: Khmer Times says the giant Chinese company owns and operates more than 20 land optical fibre cable border stations connecting China with over ten neighbouring countries and regions, reaching more than 20 international land optical fibre cable systems. The firm also has ten submarine cable landing stations globally and more than 60 submarine cable systems.
Money for the project will apparently come from loans from the Chinese government repaid from the sale of the internet service.
Cambodian demand for internet services has increased dramatically as its economy bounces back after the Covid-19 pandemic. The country of just over 17 million people has a similar number of SIM internet users, more than 310,000 fixed internet users, 38 ISPs, and five land and submarine fibre infrastructure operators. There are said to be over 640 kilometres of submarine cable in Cambodian waters.
This is not the first cable venture involving Hong Kong and Cambodia. Among a number of others is the SEA-H2X joint venture, of which Unicom is a part. Announced in May 2022, this is a 5,000 kilometre system that will span Hong Kong, Hainan, the Philippines, Thailand, East Malaysia and Singapore, with options to extend to Vietnam, Cambodia, West Malaysia and Indonesia. The SEA-H2X cable system is targeted to be ready for service in 2024.