Photo by: Marisa Reichert
Frank May, COO of Digital Star, speaks to The Post in Phnom Penh yesterday.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011 15:01Jeremy Mullins
Telecommunications firm Digital Star Media plans to have 75 WiMAX towers in operation by the end of the year using a frequency range that has been claimed by other internet service providers.
Chief Operations Officer Frank May said that the firm was granted a licence for the 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz frequency range in 2007.
Among other uses, the licence enables Digital Star to provide internet access to computers as well as calls and data service for mobile phones using WiMAX – a form of “last mile” internet delivery, whereby the internet can be accessed wirelessly at long range.
However, the permit has been controversial.
Sok Channda, Chief Executive Officer of the parent company of MekongNet and AngkorNet Internet Service Providers, claimed on Monday that her firm had been granted a licence for a slice of that frequency range, but then it had then been given to another company.
Her firms had already invested substantially in WiMAX, but its plans had been stymied by overlapping licences. “We hope that the government can help us solve this problem,” she said this week.
It is not the first time ISPs looked to the government for clarification.
Last year, seven companies affected by licensing of the 2.5GHz to 2.7GHz range penned a joint letter to the Prime Minister over the issue.
May maintained yesterday that Digital Star had received the licence for the frequency first, following a successful application.
Other companies had been erroneously granted overlapping licences, but “were told in late 2009 to 2010 to get off our frequency,” he said.
He has high hopes for his company and believes that the launch of its WiMAX service under its Emaxx brand name next month will benefit Cambodia.
“What we’re bringing to Cambodia is something that is being done around the world. Cambodian people deserve good telecommunications,” he said.
The firm’s rollout of 75 WiMAX towers by year-end was expected to costs between US$65 to $75 million, aiming to attract some 150,000 subscribers by year end, he said.
“The first move is a big capital investment,” he said, adding the firm planned on further expansion.
“I don’t think we’re ever going to be number one. We’ll be a very strong, very powerful tier-two provider,” he added.
Highlighting the potential to provide mobile phone service, he said the firm aimed to introduce Long Term Evolution technology – so-called 4G – in 2012.
“LTE is moving forward all the time. These people who say who’s going to need it, they’re the people whose networks were installed four or five years ago. They’re in trouble. They bought in at very high cost for their base stations,” he said.
He claimed that Digital Star has one of three 4G licences awarded in Cambodia, adding the other two had gone to Viettel and Russian firm Altech.
Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun did not comment when contacted yesterday.
Frank May also highlighted the firm’s intent to provide internet access to rural areas, free of charge in some cases. It planned to expand partly through a tower sharing agreement with Mfone to reduce unnecessary expenses, he said.
Mfone chief executive officer Yap Wai Khee declined to comment on the agreement yesterday.