Cambodia’s love for Internet & Facebook

In Cambodia, Facebook is a new mainstream media. It’s for everyone. Cambodians spend much of their time playing on Facebook, the world’s popular social networking website. Despite Cambodia is a hotbed for Facebook experiment, I expect that it will not affect the number of growing users. Of course, a small number of people here (including me) don’t like it.

If you’re wondering why Khmer people are in love with Facebook, please continue to read on.

Each and everyday, Facebook asks me: What’s on your mind? Here’s my answer to Facebook the company and its shareholders.

Top reasons why Cambodian users love and hate Facebook (the gateway to the Internet)

1- Cambodians started to hate TV because TV talked to them without listening to them.

2- TV is expensive. They spend money to buy a TV set just to watch. That’s all. Not fun. Nothing much on TV are cute. No cute cat. Not much to see selfies.

3- Cambodians think that everyone in Cambodia and all over the world is on Facebook. So they have to be on Facebook even being the last one in the kingdom to get on the social site.

4- Cambodians can create organic content with high reach. Cambodian users are probably the best viral content creators on the planet.

5- Cambodians have already abandoned TV. Facebook is the main source of all things day and night.

6- Ads spending on Facebook is high and growing non-stop. Why? Big, medium, and small businesses no longer want to spend their marketing money on TV and newspapers. They can easily pay Facebook to the work. $1 per day? Acceptable.

7- Cambodia’s Facebook users care about being on Facebook. Facebook Explore Feed. Who cares?

8- On Facebook, business is business. You have to pay to get in the frontpage if you want to sell.

9- On Facebook, you’re completely free to share your personal information and content (photos from your backyard or bedroom, yes).

10. Blockchain? What? Facebook invests in you all and mine your data like a pro.

11. In Cambodia, Cambodians ‘play’ Facebook when they’re on the social networking site. So it’s the happiest virtual playground ever.

12. Facebookers can share their cute or food pictures or selfies.

13. It feels good to have other players (users) to like and comment on each and every of the posting.

Facebook is Cambodia’s #1 site, at least according to Alexa. This blog post answers the most important question, why.

alexa-cambodia-facebook-google

14. It’s fun to watch Tom the Talking Cat pretending to report on social issues or making of fun of other people.

15. It’s quite easy to be famous for less than 15 minutes, if not seconds.

16. It’s a social platform where anyone can contribute a diverse ranges of unedited stories; not just petty crimes that appear daily in the local papers’ front-page.

17. It’s an Internet-based platform you can find unfiltered, not-yet-regulated news content, that you cannot find on local newspapers and particularly TVs. People find TVs brilliantly boring, if not biased.

18. It’s easy to create an account just only to favorite a political party’s Facebook Page. Or to comment on sensational issue or to help spread propaganda. It’s also easier to be anonymous to spread e-leaflets than in offline world.

19. It’s users feel proud as if they’re philosophers by sharing their philosophical quotes.

20. It’s where you express your loneliness or show off your happy moments by becoming an amateur poet.

22. It’s where marketers and politicians, who are both liars and not liars [All Marketers Are Liars as in Seth Godin’s book), to spread their messages, so that their prospect customers and supporters can have a good story to lie to themselves.

23. Facebook is a wonderful wake-up call for those who are introvert to be more open.

1. A lot of VIPs, riches, and elites want to have their voices heard. They’re willing to pay Facebook the king of social networking site to put their messages on the top of your news stream. The good thing is spending money to run advertisement or sponsored content on Facebook is super easy. If they run a billboard advertisement here, they have to spend extra for placing the ad. Facebook is of course the best place to see a variety of sponsored images you’re not supposed to see on TV. From grassroots NGOs to big businesses to prominent public figures/politicians/Oknhas, you’ll never ever miss what they want you to know.

2. Facebook is more or less your Daily Prophet-like newspaper, which you can get and read news stories at your own peril. As in the J. K. Rowling’ Harry Potter books that the paper has its moving photographs, Facebook also offers you that feature.

3. The more time you’d spend on Facebook, the better for Facebook, the man behind it, and the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, whose ambition is to help you live longer to play Facebook. The Initiative has recently announced $3 billion investment to cure disease. More time of active users of the site means so much for Facebook to report to advertisers and shareholders.

4. There are approximately 300 million photos uploaded to Facebook day in day out. So if you don’t spend too much of your spare time on the platform, those Facebookers who share their pictures won’t be happy as they don’t get many Likes.  This might translate into the decline of world’s happiness.

5. There is no other place where you can see your friends come and go. They get so close to you when they need you. They like every status update your share, so that you feel they care about every second that’s happened to you. They also disappear whenever they wish to. So spend more time to Like and Love the status and photo updates from your Facebook friends (whether you’ve met in real world or not) to celebrate this whole new level of Facebook friendship.

6. As your Facebook friends desperately want to share with you what’s happening on their end, you need to take every chance (in or out of your 9-5 job hour) you can to watch their live video stream. The less number of live stream viewers, the more disappointed your friend feel. Thus, always be the first to be there.

7. To be able to serve you well, Facebook needs to know as much as possible about you. So spend more time on Facebook and keep sharing all the dots and details of your life.

At the time of writing this blog post, there are 1,120,000 people who live in Cambodia who are reportedly Facebook users (according to a Facebook section that allows you to advertise your brands or Page on the world’s most popular site). This figure from Facebook is for business purposes. So please do not be surprised for having ghost accounts here. Any Facebook profile accounts with great names like ‘Jayavarman the great’ or ‘Cutest Cat’ were all created by human beings, not robots.

Facebook Explore Feed: an experiment

There is this new thing called Explore Feed for all the not sponsored Page content. It’s a Facebook’s experiment. And Cambodia is among the six test countries. So only sponsored Page posts get shown on the prime Frontpage.

The world’s most popular social networking site has just launched a new version for Cambodia’s users, among 6 other countries, the Facebook Frontpage. This newest test version is dedicated to updates from its users and sponsored content only. No more. For those publishers and brands who spent their budget on gaining the quanity of Likes will not get the same treatment of having their messages on the first front page. Those messages are now placed in a secondary section called Explore Feed. Just like its name, it means Cambodian Facebook users will need to do their own exploration.

Facebook is a tech company that focuses on the result. Tweaking a small feature to get more advertisers to continue spending more money is the goal for the company and the shareholders. User experience is secondary. Publishers or Page owners with largest followers has already spent their marketing budget on getting the number of Likes. It’s as if the number of Likes is useless. This new feature allows Facebook to keep earning more from these businesses and others.

Cambodia has a lot of love stories with Facebook. But the interesting timing is Facebook, Google, and Twitter, are being grilled for their role in the last year’s US election.

I think the majority of Cambodians may not notice this tweak. What matters is that they still see that Facebook is working and feeding them the content they want to consume. If the social networking site were having a one-hour downtime, the public will get angry much more
than this introduction of the Explore Feed.

It’s the first time ever that this issue has happened. Facebook should have done much better than this. But after all, it’s the global tech company that can decide without listening to their users.

This is the worse tweak ever. My tweets here (also others’)

Most users will never know or notice. Nobody should ever blame Facebook.
https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2017/10/this-could-be-the-end-of-facebook-hive-podcast

Interviews with the media: Cambodia and Facebook

I was quoted in this VOA News article here: Facebook Faceplants in Cambodia.

This is an unedited interview I gave to Matt Surrusco of The Cambodia Daily.

Matt Surrusco: What accounts for Prime Minister Hun Sen’s wide reach and popularity on Facebook?
In term of content strategy, I don’t think there is anything new. Before long there was national TV coverage for the mass audience. Back in the old days, there were visits to the rural areas, talking to farmers and doing harvesting with them. But unlike TV, Facebook is a multi-stream of content delivery, reception, viral distribution. Now Facebook is a grand platform for the country leader to get the message out in a more personalized, engaging way. Now, in addition to these activities that are being exposed on the Facebook Page, there are captured moments from the backyard and the bedroom. The other reason is for the Prime Minister’s digital media team to go for which medium first: Facebook first or TV first, or online news source first.

Matt Surrusco: In what ways is he (or his social media team) effectively using the platform? What features of Facebook help the prime minister gain followers and interactions?
Breaking news, personal stories (photos and videos), critical opinions are probably some of most popular piece of content people love to consume and spread wider.

Matt Surrusco: How does Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page shape the public’s perception of him?
The PM’s Facebook Page is the most effective tool to stay closer to the people in a more personal way. Much more than TV, radio, and newspaper. It enables people to feel that we’re, after all, humans. People from all walks of life to interact with the top leader of Cambodia in way that we couldn’t in a long time. It allows Cambodians to feel closer to the nation leader not by watching him and his family members, including his grandchildren, not on TV (one way), but by scrolling on our mobile phone (a personal device we live and breathe with every minute).

Matt Surrusco: What are the societal and political pros and cons of Prime Minister Hun Sen engaging and sharing information with Cambodians on Facebook? (in terms of interactions between citizens and political leaders, starting conversations about political issues)
More information, more informed citizens. Also, with the growing number of Cambodians are joining Facebook everyday, using the medium as a social listening tool could be very powerful.
When all are genuine and honest, talking truth to power, we’re on a path to a more total transparent society than we have ever experienced.

You can read the complete news article here online:
Among World Leaders, PM’s Facebook 2nd for Engagement (The Cambodia Daily)
by Matt Surrusco | February 22, 2017

Cambodia leaders rev up Facebook rivalry as popularity soars. My email correspondence for a news story

While China is a communist country, Cambodia has its own unique political system. It’s part of ASEAN and governed under the banner of democracy. In many ways, the Internet has opened up Cambodia since about a decade back, when the late King Father Norodom Sihanouk was internationally known as a rare royal blogger. Online blog was a medium for young intellectuals to voice thoughts on personal, local, and national matters. It was probably the first wave of Cambodia’s Internet generation of young Cambodians who have been online not only to listen or consume news and information, but also to talk back or share their voices with the wider world.

China may have invested much more in sophisticated surveillance technology and resources in online policing. However, I believe that Cambodia won’t go down that road because it’s going to be a significant setback for the government to do that. A win win strategic approach is to utilize the Internet, Facebook, and digital platforms for social listening as well as for a modern-time media machine. When young Cambodians embrace social networking site Facebook, it’d be an infamous strategy for the nation leaders to take the opposite.

Right now it’s too early to conclude who’s going to win the election bases on the Facebook Page Like and engagement metric. But a good thing for Cambodia is that the social site has opened up this small Southeast Asian nation wider. To be a popular digital democracy ruler on Facebook, Cambodian leaders have to be more accountable and transparent to their citizens. Much of the content you didn’t see on TVs and other mainstream media are now shared with Cambodians.

Activists and civil society organizations use Facebook to organize and campaign for their causes. So far it’s worked well. Facebook is also comparable to a digital freedom park, where anyone or groups call for attentions or voice their concerns. Who reads the press release anymore when a picture worth a thousand words, which can potentially go viral?


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In Cambodia, do people care about Facebook’s Free Basics?

“I see the project as both colonialist and deceptive,” Ethan Zuckerman, the director of the MIT Center for Civic Media, told me. “It tries to solve a problem it doesn’t understand, but it doesn’t need to understand the problem because it already knows the solution. The solution conveniently helps lock in Facebook as the dominant platform for the future at a moment when growth in developed markets is slowing.”

http://www.theatlantic.com/technology/archive/2016/02/facebook-and-the-new-colonialism/462393/

Social Media and Cambodian Youth: It’s Not Just Facebook: Other Social Media Platforms

Moderated by The Cambodia Daily’s Online Editor Joshua Wilwohl, I was one of the panelists talking about “It’s Not Just Facebook: Other Social Media Platforms”.

My argument is Google+ is going to take off and possible taking over Facebook (in Cambodia) thanks to Google’s owned Motorola and its budget smartphones and Android ecosystem, which will be emerging as Microsoft in the PC era. If you’ve used Gmail and YouTube, chance is that you’ll be converted to a Google+ user. While a growing number of new mobile Internet users buy smartphones to stay connected on Facebook, one of the pre-installed apps on their phones is Google+, the Internet Explorer that took down Netscape Navigator.

Below is the agenda for today’s discussion at Pannasastra University of Cambodia. Thanks Chantra Be, a social media strategist, and Raymond Leos, Dean, Faculty of Communications and Media Arts Pannasastra University of Cambodia, for inviting me to be a panelist. The panelists contributed some great insights into where we’re going forward in digital and social media trend.

Fakebook for fake news: Fakebook
Facebook is set to launch a whole new social news site in 2017. The beta site is for invite only users.

To get the invite, you have to:
know how to create/share fake news/information.

This Facebook’s newest platform, to be open to all in January 2017, is called Fakebook.

This is the first attempt to move those who spread fake content to another platform. By doing this, Facebook will have 110% no fake news on its world’s most popular social networking site.

Like Facebook, anyone can pay to run sponsored fake advertisements on Fakebook.

#HumorousSunday

Connecting the next millions
2003: Community Information Centers
funded by: USAID & Microsoft; implemented by The Asia Foundation

2004: Internet Village Motoman
by Bernie Krisher

2015: Free Basics
by Facebook in sole partnership with Smart

2023: Free Premiums
by a creative capitalist

Updated: October 6, 2017

In which 2016 will be the year when we, citizens, watch more and more instantly live stream videos from Cambodia’s political leaders. Luxury would be citizens’ spare time to see what some Cambodian politicians are up to at their work and home backyard. Those who broadcast and watch live videos use a device called 3G-connected (or even 4G) smartphone.

A new dawn for Cambodia’s “total transparency”
Personal stories and private lives get more Likes:
Politicians’ Facebook posts that feature photos and video about their private lives tend to generate excitements among their followers and the public = more Likes => more Shares => more postings.

Online platforms will be vital news sources. Mainstream media like TVs, newspapers, and radio will mostly cover news and events based on sources that shared on Facebook.

As a blogger pointed out in a tweet:

Cambodia’s general elections in 2013 was touted as the first Facebook election by Cambodians. Citizens flocked to the social networking site for all things (news stories, commentaries, even rumours) election, shared from media outlets as well as citizen themselves. Main opposition party leveraged the powerful platform Facebook to garner support from the young population.

Fast forward to the 2018 general elections, all political parties will engage with citizens via their smartphone screen, not TV. Facebook Page by politicians will become the primary news sources for the public and news reporters.

Some selected examples:
PM launches personal attack on Rainsy: The Phnom Penh Post

“Hun Sen blasted the CNRP leader in videos and text posted on his Facebook page, and warned of possible legal action against the opposition’s leadership.”

With 1M ‘Likes,’ PM Says Facebook Page Is His: The Cambodia Daily

“With the growth in followers, Mr. Hun Sen’s cabinet released a short statement on Sunday night confirming Mr. Hun Sen is an avid user of social media—and, for the first time, clarifying that the page does belong to him.”

A live stream video from Cambodian prime minister Hun Sen’s residence, posted on Facebook on 12 November, received more than 230k views with nearly 10k shares. While an archived YouTube video shared (on 17 November 2015) by Cambodia’s opposition party leader Sam Rainsy has been viewed more than 293k times.

To gain an in-depth understanding of the power of social networks, I’d recommend that you read The Circle, a novel by American author Dave Eggers.

“I understand that we’re obligated, as humans, to share what we see and know. And that all knowledge must be democratically accessible,” Mae Holland, a young woman starting a new job at an all-powerful Silicon Valley company called The Circle. Set in the near future, The Circle is the spiritual and business heir to our times, a mashup of Google, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and PayPal.

Email interview: how social media shapes Cambodian politics

This is a full email interview I gave to Colin Meyn, an editor at The Cambodia Daily, on social media in Cambodian politics. It’s conducted on 13 June 2013. The last answer was quoted in this news article: With Limited Media Access, Opposition Turns to the Web [by By Colin Meyn and Phorn Bopha – June 17, 2013]

Colin Meyn:
I have heard that more than 700,000 Cambodians are on Facebook, do you think this is accurate, and how many of these people do you think use their Facebook accounts on a regular basis? (In other words, is this an inflated statistic?)

Tharum:
This figure is provided by Facebook for those who want to run advertising on the site. Currently there are about 780,000 registered users, who gave info to the site that they live in Cambodia. Facebook can easily obtain users’ IP addresses; users mostly provided their location information to the site. Since Facebook is more about making money to survive in this digital age, it gathers and maintains great users’ data for businesses. So accuracy in all of the data the site collects can help convince businesses to pay them to run ads.

Side note: you can take a screen shot from here:
https://www.facebook.com/ads/create/ (after selecting, just scroll down to see the audience, including the number of people in Cambodia)

Colin Meyn:
Have you seen any changes in what Cambodian people are talking about on Facebook over the past couple years, as it has become more popular.
Tharum:
Once a favorite playground or walled-garden, Facebook is now more than just a place to maintain contacts. Some years back, it’s more or less a place they think they could get entertained; where they’re supposed to ‘play’. Now it’s where young Cambodians can get breaking news, opinions, and views; where they can spread messages, words, or even rumors. A virtual cafe to meet diverse groups of people.

Colin Meyn:
How many of Cambodia’s Facebook users do you think are using the network to learn about politics?
Tharum:
I think only a small percent of the users are using the site to learn about politics. But the nature of the networking site to spread the message and go viral can also feed the rest about what’s going in Cambodian politics. Facebook users may not want to think about politics, but it ends up that politics is after them, even on Facebook.

Colin Meyn:
Have you seen an increase in political activism online?
Tharum:
The more people get informed, the more they think critically. Internet-based political activism is presently the greatest venue; it’s open and free space. Despite the increase isn’t so encouraging
for the exchange and dialogue right now, it’s a new beginning of something significant. Over time, it’s growing maturely.

Colin Meyn:
Do you think the CNRP’s campaign on Facebook will get them more votes in July’s election?
Tharum:
I think this 2013 election is an early start. Next election should be better for them to get more votes. It’s probably the last best channel to get their messages out.

Colin Meyn: How important do you think social media might be to the future of the opposition (or ruling party)?
Tharum: For some years, social media has been an alternative mean for net users to get informed of what’s not well covered, mentioned, or highlighted in the mainstream media. Social media will continue to
flourish as a medium of choice for a larger Cambodian audience in the coming years. For any political party not establishing itself online well, it means that it chooses to rule out a powerful communication tool to reach out their potential voters.

What you need to be digital politicians in Cambodia
Have a blog or website
The most important thing is to launch a blog or a website that your supporters and followers can read your correspondence.

Once published online, anyone can spread your letters, speeches and everything in between on social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google+. You need not to worry if what you wrote turns out to be something else on those social networking sites. The good thing is everything you posted on your own site is authentic. Your official site is your official source of texts, images, audio and videos, where professional journalists refer to.

You keep your access account information safe. Update your site regularly. Don’t worry about the number of pageviews. When you publish texts or images relevant to Cambodian people you represent, Facebookers will quickly make your posting gone viral. Use your site smartly to reach out your audience. It’s the most economical platform to maintain.

Without this kind of official site, it’s tough to verify your says or correspondence. But to have your own site, it makes life difficult for those who want to reproduce your original content.

Have a digital audio recorder
Another important thing to do: always bring with an audio recorder. Make sure it’s completely charged so you can use it for five or six hours for recording during any closed door meeting or negotiation. You can always have the recording replayed any time. It’s your great personal digital assistant that helps you as minute taker. Most smart phones come with an audio recording capability. It’s smart (it can detect sound to start recording) and quiet (nobody will ever know that you record the conversation).

Please note that having a Facebook Page or a Twitter account are not enough to be a politicians in this digital age, especially in a country like Cambodia. Your presence on social media platforms help you stay connected and engaged with your supporters, fans, and followers. But your own website or blog is more about who you are, what you say, promise, and implement.

Some blogs and websites of high profiles from around the world:
King-Father Norodom Sihanouk of Cambodia

Prime Minister NODA’s BLOG
The Prime Minister sends out his own messages to the public.

Mong Palatino
is an activist and former legislator who represented Kabataan (Youth) Partylist in the 14th and 15th Congress of the Philippines

1. Cambodia’s government embrace all things digital, social, and Internet

Since 2013, each government institutions were required to go online, at least on Facebook. E-government is an ancient term. Government officials talk Facebook, Facebook, and Facebook. Cambodia’s Facebook users, the citizens are very interested in getting news and information from Facebook. Facebook is the Internet. The Internet is Facebook.

Embracing fast Internet in the heart of Cambodia

If you’re currently looking for an Internet Provider for either your home, office, or business, this is the guide for you. There are nearly 20 Internet Service Providers (ISPs) in Cambodia. These ISPs are based in Phnom Penh with branches in major provinces like Siem Reap and Sihanoukville. Although there are many ISPs operating in Cambodia, but only a few of them own and operate the most advanced optic networks covering 25 Cambodian provinces. These ISPs have a variety of options you can choose: from Wireless, to ADSL to Fiber Optic line.

SINET: Cambodia’s fastest Internet Provider or Google Fiber of Cambodia

SINET provides an Internet connection speed of up to 150Mbps for both download and upload. Believe it or not, this is the highest speed Internet bandwidth you can have from this provider. According to the Hurricane Electric Network, which ranks all global Networks by country, “SINET is by far the number one most connected network in Cambodia.” Here’s the list of the Cambodia’s international networks as appeared Hurricane Electric Database.

I’ve started using SINET’s Internet connection since August 2016. I subscribed to Fiber Edge plan for my home/shop/office. I paid Fiber Edge (10Mbps) for $400 per year. No installation fee. Right after the installation, I bought a WiFi router, TP-LINK 940N, for about $25. This is a reasonably price router recommended by the ISP. It’s really a good router for a small family home.

Things I like about this SINET, which branded itself as a dedicated Internet provider:

Dedicated Internet: I’ve got the fiber connection all for my home/office. This is the huge difference from having a shared Internet link (with my neighbor). The download/upload speed is really good. Dedicated Internet access means that the specified amount of bandwidth sold has been carved out and dedicated for your use.
Quick fix. Whenever I encountered any issues with my internet, the support staff have helped fix them in just a day, not a week like my previous ISP. This is a big plus when I need the connection for Skype calls at home or working to meet my deadline, rather going to the cafe.
If you run a small business or want to have a high speed/quality Internet for home, apartment or office, I’d recommend SINET. In addition to their 24/7 support, their staff are well-trained and responsive.

Cambopedia: Internet Providers in Cambodia

2. Mobile speed is fast, data is getting cheaper and cheaper

The past is 3G. Here comes 4G LTE+.

3. In Cambodia, Google, Facebook, and YouTube rule the online world

4. The Cambodian government used to blocked and banned Internet web sites. Not anymore.

5. The fastest ISP in Cambodia: 150Mbps for both download and upload speed

SINET is Cambodia’s fastest Internet Provider with its Fiber One offers an unbeatable speed up to 150Mbps.

Mobile internet: Cambodia

The Cambodia Daily’s Joshua Wilwohl reported that “The government has ordered the country’s seven mobile phone operators to abide by a law that sets minimum prices for calls, ultimately ending their lucrative top-up and bonus deal promotions…”

With mobile Internet, it’s easy to avoid making phone calls (whatever price set by the network providers). Mobile messaging apps for smartphones make it possible to use voice call or text messaging. Google Hangout, Skype, KakaoTalk, and LINE are probably some the best alternative tools.

The fact that “Smart Mobile Sees 36% Revenue Growth” is that the network provider firm, popular among the young population, can still offer the best for money for the mobile Internet data package; Its 100%+ promotion isn’t affected by the recent regulation.

With what’s going on, it will only speed up the adoption of smartphone and demand of mobile Internet. Of course, phone call is the most basic need now. However, there is a great alternative and cheaper way to communicate.

For those in rural areas, it’s not a good thing since they can no longer enjoy 500% promotion top-up bonuses. I think most of them use feature (basic) phones without messaging app.

Probably what would be after in the near future is the inclusion that mobile operators be told to end price promotions for mobile Internet. For now, you can still have a good time.

Lately, I’ve written several blog posts about Internet Providers (or ISPs) in Cambodia. In this latest, let’s take a look at Google Wifi, one of the most simplified WiFi routers, that’s both easy to install and use. In addition to this, Google Wifi is pretty much stable and fast.

At my home in Tuol Kork district in Phnom Penh, I subscribe to a fiber optic Internet connection, SINET Fiber Edge.

The dedicated speed for both upload and download is 10Mbps. Having the best of Google Wifi is a great addition to my home Internet. One pack of Google Wifi covers 457.2 meters home, while 3 packs have the capability to blanket your entire, large home of 1371.6 meters. I live in a 2 story flat house. So having one is good enough.

 

Technology websites like CNET, The Verge, and Engadget gave some great reviews about Google Wifi. CNET wrote that “Google Wifi is easy to use and a breeze to set up. It has strong Wi-Fi coverage and fast speed. It costs a lot less than other mesh Wi-Fi systems.” In The Verge, the review site said: “Google says that the Wifi system is the product of three-and-a-half years of work — and it has previously released a router, called the OnHub.”

This Google’s mesh Wifi router is taking on products like Netgear and Eero. Yet, Google multi-point router system is still priced cheaper than these brands.

In Cambodia, you can buy Google Wifi here at Sweet Memory Store. One pack is for $149.

Fiber Edge is an ideal Internet package for small, family-run businesses and technology startups on a shoestring budget in Cambodia. As I’ve been using this Fiber Edge Internet service plan for nearly a year, it’s a good time to share my experience with those who look for a good Internet plan from SINET, one of the best Internet Service Providers (ISP) in the Kingdom.

Over the past years, I used a shared Internet plan, an ADSL (not a dedicated Internet). Common uses for email and web browsing were just okay, but for the conference call and HD video streaming were an issue. Connection stability was just unpredictable. The pain came when the connection was down several times a month, and the support came to fix only a week after I contacted that ISP. I decided to switch my ISP for the first time in years.

In August 2016, I contacted to SINET, Cambodia’s dedicated Internet provider, to install the Internet at my home in Tuol Kork district. While I already did some online research into this Internet provider, the saleswoman still insisted on giving me more information about the package, Fiber Edge (8Mbps) I wanted to go for.

In less two days after I signed up with SINET for Fiber Edge, the fiber-only Internet provider sent their staff to survey the location and do the installation. This is the first time I’ve got this so-called fiber optic connection for my home, where about ten users with multiple devices connect to the new connection through a new, decent WiFi router, too.

The difference between the previous provider is that SINET’s support is far more responsive. It took them a shorter time to come fix when the connection is down. There were times when the Internet cables from the pole on the street were cut off without anyone’s notice. In Phnom Penh, this is so common. Good news is that SINET also has the MetroLink, the underground fiber optic cable, in many parts of the city, including in my area. So hopefully, I will soon have this connection over the MetroLink instead. I could imagine that the city hall has been working tirelessly to beautify Phnom Penh by having less messy cables across the streets and boulevards.

Starting in January 2017, SINET offered a free speed upgrade Fiber Edge from 8Mbps to 10Mbps, which is quite noticeable. I feel that this Internet package is much more than enough for a small office or a shop that need stable Internet with dedicated support. With a lof of the jobs relies on a reliable Internet connection, this $400 per year Internet plan is also just the beginning. I recommended this Fiber Edge to a friend who runs a small web design firm, to begin with before upgrading to a bigger bandwidth plan, Fiber Plus (20Mbps) when her company grows with more clients and staff members. Next, you’ll get to know more about Fiber Plus.

Meet 3 Cambodians behind an Internet Provider in Cambodia
Over the few past months I’ve had a privilege to talk and interact with some amazing Cambodians who have built and served the backbone of the Internet connectivity in Cambodia. Just like anywhere else in the world, when people can access fast Internet, there are endless possibilities. These three people told me about their work as well as their daily routine to provide high speed Internet connections over fiber optic cables to home, businesses, and organizations across the country.

Ms. Chou Lylinh, IP Network Manager

Chou Lylinh of Cambodian ISP SINET
Chou Lylinh of Cambodian ISP SINET

Ms. Chou Lylinh is currently an IP Network Manager. She has worked at SINET since 2011. Before joining SINET, Lylinh studied Economics and Informatic at Royal University of Laws and Economics (RULE) and English Literature at University of Cambodia. Her dual bachelor degree was awarded scholarships.

Routine
“After breakfast, I come to the SINET office. I always check my email inbox, Skype, Line, and Telegram for what’s new or to check whether there are any pending issues from our team or customer. I do my support work on each issue one by one base on my role. In addition to this, I work on projects, network plans, and network maintenance.”

Dealing with challenges
“What I do is keep trying to researching in the issues. I also discuss with my supervisor about technical issues. My supervisor Kong Diep, who is so open to us. Mostly I seek his practical advice, not theory. I think that the more I do, the more I know, and the stronger I am.”

What a surprise!
“My parents and friends were really surprised when they first learned that I work as an engineer at a telecommunications company. It’s funny moment. I tell them and everyone that it’s the kind of work I love. They said they rarely see women doing engineering work.”

Dream her job
“When I was young, I had never dreamed of becoming an engineer. Back then, IT was not very popular in Cambodia yet. I even did not know what is IT mean at that time. But I thought that IT is like news, interview, and such.”

More women in tech?
“I want younger women to learn computer science and become a technologist and engineer like me. I definitely encourage them to take on the job in this sector.”

Working with passion
“I love computer networking. I think if I work here I can do what I wish. I can learn what I love and I also can practice what I have learn. SINET is an ISP, so network lovers always like to work for. I love my work. I’m so proud of what I am working on. So I always feel positive and am happy about work.”

Mr. Sok Sovutha, Technical Support Supervisor

Sok Sovutha, 27, is a Technical Support Supervisor.
“I love my family and enjoy spending my quality time my them, especially my one year old and half daughter.

At SINET, I’m a Technical Support Supervisor. I’ve been with SINET since 2012. I started out as a Technical Support Officer, Installer Operator Team Leader, and Field Operation Supervisor before holding the present position managing nearly 20 team members.

At SINET, my team members are at the front-line dealing directly with customers. My team members work to support customers with every issue: the Internet connection and even their local area network. A lot of workplaces don’t have a tech support, so even they have issue with their local network, we still support them. The hotline and support unit are together in one team. So we’re well synchronized.

One interesting instance in early 2014, there was an electricity blackout in Bavet of Svay Rieng Province, and our Internet links were cut off. But my team worked around the clock for 2 days and half to restore the connection.

In the office, we often have snack time together. We love sour fruits. Mouthwatering. Once every month we dine out together.

Initially I wanted to go to medical school to become a medical doctor. But I could manage to go to Notorton Unversity for Computer Science bachelor’s degree.

I feel very proud of being here with SINET since the early day. In 2012 when I first started our Internet service covered only major cities and provinces. Now, we cover the whole country, even the districts.

In addition to Khmer as a mother tongue language, I speak English and some basic Chinese with customers.

I am family man. I some time work from 8am-8pm and my wife waits for me for dinner. I want to finish to work, try not to leave it for tomorrow.”

Mrs. Por Chantrea, Key Account Manager

With SINET since mid 2012, Ms. Por Chantrea is now a Key Account Manager.
On acquiring the first customer
“I did it everything I could to set the very first appointment with my prospect customer. It took me some time. I didn’t give up quickly. At the end I was rewarded a meeting and having him as a customer.”

On her colleagues
“I love it more than anything else when my colleagues buy me breakfast or lunch whenever I’m too busy with work and forgetting my meal.”

On holding various positions
“I graduated from the university with a major in Finance and Banking. I started at SINET as an administrative assistant, project manager assistant (when I learned about username and password), and revenue assurance officer. Now I’m a deputy marketing manager.”

On delayed birthday surprise
“I felt very disappointed when my colleagues seemed not to realise that it’s my birthday and there was no cake. It’s until the day later when the surprise and the cake arrived. What a delayed birthday surprise set up by my colleagues at this work place I call my home second home.”

On talking straight to the point
“I don’t talk much. But on certain topics, I can talk for hours. So I believe that I’ve got the talent to be a good marketer.”

Since 2009, SINET is a specialist dedicated ISP in Cambodia with focus on engineering excellence & dedicated services.

When and how U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh marks its one million Facebook page likes

This afternoon, I got an instant message from a friend. I got a last-minute invite to the U.S. Embassy in Phnom Penh as it celebrates its big social media day. The embassy’s Facebook Page reaches its milestone one million Likes. Like many countries around the world, Facebook is simply a modern media machine anyone can become publishers.


As a blogger friend nicely puts it: “The legend has it that old bloggers meet every four year there for cake…”


I happened to wear my blue BarCamp Bangkok 2014 t-shirt today. 😉


This is probably a million milligram cake to celebrate a million like U.S. Embassy Cambodia’s Facebook Page.

With my helicopter bloggers (read this by then US Ambassador William Todd): An Effective Military-to-Military Partnership): Cartoonist and lecturer Sovathary and Chetra Chap who spearheads Khmer Scholar. It’s a great to catch up and have some nice conversation about next generation of digital marketing using virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

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From right to left: Chetra Chap, Kounila Keo, Sovathary Bon

Many more beautiful pictures from the US embassy:
US Embassy 1million Facebook fans celebration

Big thank to Yarat for the invite!

Kounila wrote about this celebration here: Coming back to the Kingdom when U.S. Embassy Facebook Page has 1 million fans strong

Here’s the official U.S. Embassy Phnom Penh Facebook Page:
https://www.facebook.com/us.embassy.phnom.penh/

Google to unveil panoramic views of Angkor

Google will unveil its Street View imagery of Angkor’s ancient temples as Cambodia is set to celebrate its Khmer New Year in April this year.

As previous years, Google usually chooses heated April to introduce Cambodian net users to new services or major features. In 2013, Khmer-language support was the most welcoming feature in Google Translate. Earlier, ‘Kingdom of Cambodia’ in Khmer language was designed as part the world’ most popular search engine’s logo. The history of the releases dated back to when Google began to use .KH as the country code top-level domain for Cambodia-based Internet users.

The first batch of over 90 historic temples at Angkor Wat will be made available, hopefully in early April. See an example of what it’s going to look like here:

Views: Bayon 사원 가는 다리 by 고기만

What if you can have a closer look or tour some of your favorite temples virtually?

Also, what’s in the pipeline is Khmer-language support for voice recognition. But I don’t think it’s going to happen next year.

It’s not going to be an April Fools’ Day!