3G and 4G LTE networks are now well established in Cambodia, with local telecom companies catering to a rapidly expanding market. Coverage and speeds are steadily improving, and with prices dropping there’s never been a better time to get online. And with 5G planned for mid-2019, things will get even better!
First consider buying an old school mobile (think early 2000s Nokia) for around $20 from one of Phnom Penh’s copious phone shops as a cheap, expendable option for calls, lest your smartphone gets lost or stolen. The flashlight feature is handy, you can fit it in your pocket, and use it on the street without worry.
Next, take your passport to an approved mobile company outlet to get a registered SIM card, generally between $2 and $5 with a minimum of $1 credit to activate. This way, you can get your number back if you lose your phone.
Which mobile network?
There are two mobile operators of note in Cambodia. Both offer free or cheap on-network calls, prepaid or postpaid plans, data and international calling, as well as some impressive promotions. You can make the most of the country’s broad coverage by using a 4G modem or tethering your phone as a wireless hotspot for your laptop.
Many expats favour Cellcard for their English-speaking staff and competitive prepaid voice and data plans. They currently offer two excellent packages, Osja Exchange and Big Love, with fast download speeds and data fees around US$1 per 250GB. Check out www.cellcard.com.kh for details or visit their main showroom on Sihanouk Boulevard just west of St.51
Smart is another popular brand, providing service for over seven million customers. With 4G LTE mobile Internet (and extensive coverage across the Kingdom), voice packages include long distance calls for 3-7 cents a minute. Smart is very popular with younger demographics, thanks in no small part to their clever marketing, access to a large library of videos, and their ongoing promotions of large pop concerts.
Internet usage is ever-increasing in Cambodia, with new companies still coming into the market. To set up home Internet, drop into a provider’s office and ask for some quotes. A standard package will charge you for installation and equipment, plus monthly fees, sometimes in advance. Check coverage in your area – some centrally located zones can have all their ports already taken. It is worth remembering that a company which provides great coverage in one area may not be as good in another. It is often helpful to ask on local Facebook groups for the town or city you are living in or moving to as to which ISP offers the best service there. Fiber optic coverage is increasing rapidly, even in the smaller towns.
The Ezecom MCT (Malaysia-Cambodia-Thailand) is now up and running, something which is helping with both internet speeds and future capacity. The cable’s total capacity is 30 terabytes, and when you consider that the total usage for Cambodia is around 300 gigabytes, then you will realise just how much future capacity they are planning for. Currently, around 80% of internet usage here is purely Facebook and YouTube, but as a new wave of businesses and corporate enterprises grows, that figure will certainly change.
It is also worth considering making upfront payments, as every ISP offers discounts, free months, or free equipment/installation if you pay 6 or 12 months in advance.
One of the largest and most popular ISPs is EZECOM, which was established way back in 2007. The company offers their EzeSurf fiber-optic residential internet package from just $15 a month for 3Mbps or $45 a month for 10Mbps. Business users can take advantage of their EzeBiz package which offers high-speed connections for multiple users from $118 a month (for 10Mbps).
If speed isn’t your priority, OpenNet’s ADSL packages offer great value for money from $12 a month for 4MB to $24 for 8MB, with $27 modem and $10 installation, both of which can be waived if you pay 10 months’ upfront.
Metfone is another large telecommunications company who offer a range of internet services. Service is usually good, and at $24 per month for 8Mbps, speeds are usually fairly good, though evenings can be a little patchy.
Online (Cogetel) may not be the most well-known ISP in Cambodia, but they have been operating for 21 years. Strangely, their website does not display prices, so you may have to contact directly to find out costs.
Today Communication is a relative newcomer, and specialises in business solutions, though also offer a range of residential internet packages, with prices starting at $36 per month ($18 per month if paid annually) for a 3Mbps daytime/9Mbps nighttime service.
Relative newcomer SINET offers a range of fiber optic packages to suit most needs, starting at $40 a month, with business packages from $60. SINET are growing in popularity and are also gathering a lot of positive reviews.
As you might expect, charges increase according to the speed and amount of data you use. Many people opt for unlimited data plans, and speeds of 2Mbps usually suffice for email and general internet surfing. Streaming video will require a faster connection, and Netflix fans might want to purchase a 15Mbps plan in order to access the Full HD service now available here in Cambodia.
Should you need a ride to any of these companies’ offices, why not harness the power of the internet? There are now several apps for taxi services, one of the most popular being PassApp, with fares around 1500 riel per kilometre. Regional operator Grab has also recently entered the Cambodian market, taking over the operations of its main competitor Uber.