Thursday, January 27, 2011

Smart set to offer WiMAX internet

SMART Mobile is in the testing phase to launch WiMAX at “practically 4G” speeds on its network, its chief executive officer Thomas Hundt said.

WiMAX is a method of “last mile” internet delivery, where the internet is accessed using wireless technology.  The technology – to be accessed by computers  only – is likely to be the first of its kind launched in Cambodia, said Hundt.

He declined to reveal a pricing plan yesterday, but said that the service would be available from a USB dongle as well as a portable modem.

Speeds will reach 40 megabits per second.

The service could be used at home, but also can be operated  from a computer from places such as cafes – provided it is within range of the WiMAX signal.

“At the end of the day for the users, what matters is the user experience.

“And what the users want is internet,” he said yesterday.

The firm – which had its merger with Star-Cell approved earlier this month - intends to launch the service in Phnom Penh at the end of the first or beginning of the second quarter.

It will also be available in Siem Reap and Battambang..

The same type of WiMAX is currently operated in Malaysia by Packet One Networks, and had proven successful, he said.

Smart held its first live test of the system during the ASEAN Tourism Forum on Koh Pich last week, with “excellent” results, according to Hundt.

(source from the phnompenhpost newspaper,Thursday, 27 January 2011 15:01 Jeremy Mullins)

Opinion split over currency

THE Securities and Exchange Commission of Cambodia is set to make a decision “soon” on what currency firms will use to list on the exchange, after holding a public consultation on its choices.

Some 200 attendees attended a consultation at the capital’s Phnom Penh Hotel on Friday to voice opinions for CSX listings in dollars, riel, or both currencies.

“After we receive some input, we will have a meeting with Keat Chhon, chairman of the SECC, for approval,” said Ming Bankosal, director general of the SECC.

“It won’t take a long time to decide – it will happen very soon.”

The exchange is set to launch in July, after being twice postponed.

During the meeting, opinions were mixed. Several government officials voiced support for the riel, while private sector stakeholders generally came out in support of the dollar.

Ming Bankosal said Cambodia was keenly aware of the lessons of the 1997 Asian financial crisis, which had destabilised regional economies following the collapse of the Thai baht.

“The government wants to support our currency sovereignty for the country – we have the monetary authority to manage our currency,” he said. “Our policy is to strengthen the use of the Khmer riel.”

However, a survey posted on the SECC’s website saw support split between the three currency options. Some 32 percent of respondents had called for use of the dollar, 21.5 percent supported the riel, and 28.5 percent said they would prefer listings in both currencies. The remaining respondents had chosen “neutral”.

Phan Ying Tong, country head of the Kingdom’s largest bank Cambodia Public Bank, said on conference sidelines that the bank would support the government’s choice, adding there were many factors besides currency risk to consider.

“Every investor has their own risk portfolio - how much they want to expose to Asia and this country or others – they don’t only look at the currency. They look at your compliance, good governance, professionalism, reputation. These are all the important factors,” he said.

Meanwhile, Han Kyung-tae, managing director of approved underwriter Tong Yang Securities Cambodia, said he supported initial listings in dollars.

“We should start with the US dollar first, and then with long term planning we can develop the local currency and the economy,” he said.

The firm’s parent company Tong Yang Securities had previous experienced currency risk first-hand, he said, adding it had suffered significant losses in Vietnam “purely because of the depreciation of the Vietnamese dong in this market – not because of the Vietnamese economy”.

He said the government would likely face risks if they chose the riel rather than the dollar. “If they [the SECC] prepare for handling these risks, then they can consider the riel,” he added.

Friday, January 7, 2011

French Mobitel talks 'less advanced'

FRANCE Telecom SA’s talks on acquisitions in Iraq and Cambodia are progressing, and the company may enter Algeria as it expands further into emerging markets, Chief Executive Officer Stephane Richard said.

Talks on a possible deal for a stake in Cambodia’s Mobitel are “less advanced” than those on buying part of Iraq’s Korek Telecom, Richard told reporters in Paris yesterday.

The CEO, who took over last March, is looking to orient France Telecom toward fast-growing countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia to offset stagnant revenue at home. He has pledged to spend as much as 7 billion euros (US$9.2 billion) on emerging-market deals by 2015 as part of a plan to double revenue from those countries.

France’s largest phone company is monitoring developments in Algeria, where it could seek a presence either through existing operator Djezzy or other means, Richard said.

France Telecom shares yesterday rose 0.2 percent to 15.98 euros in Paris, valuing the company at about 42.3 billion euros.

In Iraq, France Telecom may take a minority stake in Korek along with “a financial partner” also active in logistics, and with whom the Paris-based company has already cooperated elsewhere, the executive said. He declined to identify the investor.

France Telecom has invested in Kenya with Alcazar Capital Ltd, a Dubai-based private equity firm spun off from Agility Logistics in 2009.

In 2007, Alcazar provided Korek with a $250- million convertible loan. Entering Iraq would expand France Telecom’s influence into the heart of the Middle East, adding to expansion last year into Morocco and Tunisia. 

Royal Group Chairman Kith Meng did not discuss the state of Mobitel negotiations when contacted by reporters yesterday.  BLOOMBERG/ADDITIONAL REPORTING JEREMY MULLINS
(source from the phnompenh post, Friday, 07 January 2011 15:00 Post Staff)

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