Ministry and CSOs oppose annoying internet access fees by landlords

Telecommunications Ministry officials inspect a house in a gated community, locally known as borey, in Phnom Penh to check mobile phone coverage and internet service last July. MPTC

Civil society organizations accuse owners of gated communities – locally known as boreys – on the outskirts of the capital of exploiting their residents by demanding payments for internet connections when they are not actually involved in the works but are content to authorize them, a practice which has also been condemned by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications.

San Chey, executive director of the NGO Affiliated Network for Social Accountability, said on November 15 that the problem of borey and condominium owners taking money from residents for no specific purpose was clearly exploitative and unnecessarily added to the considerable costs that they already incur by paying to be an owner or tenant there.

“I see a lot of things like this happening and the authorities should take steps so that internet service providers can simply connect the internet directly to every resident’s house. The only required infrastructure that the borehole owner provides are the electricity poles or the conduits along which the wiring is threaded, but these are necessary for the electricity and therefore are not an additional cost.

“Residents of Borey have a right to access utilities and services there, so charging a fee for that is just internet colonialism,” he said.

He added that as a solution, the Ministry of Telecoms and the Ministry of Territorial Planning, Urban Planning and Construction should take joint measures to protect the inhabitants of the groves from these predations.

Telecoms ministry spokesman So Visothy said officials had reminded owners of boreys and condominiums that they should stop taking money from residents to simply allow direct internet connection to residents there. live.

Visothy said the activity violates telecommunications law because the owners are effectively providing telecommunications services without a license from the regulator when inserting themselves as intermediaries in the process.

“When they charge money in exchange for allowing internet connections to drill houses, it stifles competition because they often reward a certain provider with exclusive rights and then the company just ignores complaints and issues. customers,” he said.

“Maintenance for downtime is also limited, unlike in a competitive market where every business is afraid of losing customers,” he added.

He said if this practice persists, the ministry will take legal action against individual borehole owners in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.

The Department of Telecoms issued a press release Nov. 14 renewing its calls on borey and condominium owners to stop taking money in exchange for allowing internet connections to residential accommodation.

“Such actions are against the telecommunications law and amount to providing unlicensed internet services without permission from Cambodia’s telecommunications regulator. [TRC]. All borey and condominium owners should cease and desist from using these fees,” the ministry said.

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