These are photographs from May 24, 2013. It was when I stayed in Amsterdam for about a week touring one of the European cities I’ve dreamed of. On one of the days, with two other Dutch fellows, I took a train from Amsterdam to Enschede, a city in the eastern Netherlands in the province of Overijssel. This city is very close to Germany.
The best of my short stay in the Netherlands is visiting many magnificent museums. Even in this sleepy town, I also went around to check out its museums and arts exhibitions.
A visit to Marc-Jan Trapman, whom I worked with in from the late 1999 to the early 2000s.
What’s the easiest to understand a technical jargon term? Google that term, you’ll get a lot definitions, including from some the big name dictionaries.
Here’s how Sideways Dictionary explains what’s an Internet Service Provider using simple analogy.
Internet Service Provider — It’s like a gym. You pay a monthly fee and some get more out of it than others. Hardcore users may sweat the broadband connection hard, uploading and downloading their bodyweight in files every month. Others may pop in now and again for some light social media action. You buy different packages depending on your lifestyle.
It’s like a water pipe that serves the shower, washing machine and dishwasher in your apartment. If you run all three at the same time, you’ll notice a drop in pressure and whoever’s in the shower will get annoyed.
It’s like the dark side of the moon. The bright side (the internet) is visible to everyone – all you have to do is look up. To access the dark side, you need specialist software (a rocket).
Want some tough technical terms explained in an easy way to understand?
Check out Sideways Dictionary.
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
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.
“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.
Among the Southeast Asian countries, Cambodia still sees the lowest rate of toilet coverage, which has lead to disease, environmental issues, and impeded economic development among the population.
I believe that although it is really challenging to tackle one of Cambodia’s biggest development obstacles, we citizens should work together to put a stop to all these issues that are caused by a lack of latrines or toilets in the country.
And, we need to keep encouraging our family members and relatives to poop in a safe and clean place as well. Don’t forget to get a toilet builder near you, ok? 😉
As someone who has spent most of the time living in the city, finding a toilet might not be an issue, but finding a clean toilet might be. However, this has improved in urban areas over the last few years. Unfortunately, though, the countryside or any place outside urban areas do not see brighter light.
Relatives and friends still complain when they go to attend events or celebrations outside Phnom Penh. Some have to resort to bushes and use tree leaves as toilet paper. But whenever this topic comes up during chats or discussions, many shy away to discuss this open secret. Being shy about it is one thing, but refusing to discuss this problem about the lack of hygiene or not having a toilet is not going to help.
I’d say, don’t be shy to encourage your family members and friends who live far away to build a toilet and keep it clean always. Be it water or toilet paper. And, be it a squat toilet or not, many Cambodians I assume still prefer squat toilets which are great and help you defecate better.
Maybe some of us think that it’s a small matter, but if you look at the repercussion on the health of your children and your family, you’ll realize how important “this shit” is to everyone and yourself.
Watch this video to understand more about this common yet serious issue facing Cambodian people.
Disclaimer: This is a sponsored post from the social campaign to raise awareness about a shortage of latrines 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.
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.
In May 1997 people in Cambodia could join the wider world through the Internet for the first time. Back then, the dial-up connection speed was 64Kbps, which allowed the Internet users to exchange email messages and surf web pages. Fast forward to 2016, you can subscribe to a dedicated 150Mbps fiber optic connection. In a country like Cambodia, once lagged behind nations in Southeast Asia, is now head to head with them in term of infrastructure, innovation, and technology. Today, videoconferencing, broadcast live video, or watching 4K video content on YouTube or Netflix are definitely possible with high quality connection.
Cambodian tech and startup community
The Internet penetration in Cambodia (a population of over 15 million) has increased rapidly (only 9% in 2015, 19% in 2016). From small businesses to large organisations, the backbone of their daily operation demands fast, yet reliable Internet connection. Here’s
an amazing map that shows the growing technology community in the heart of Phnom Penh, the Cambodian capital city. Internet Service Provider (ISP) like SINET partners with Impact Hub Phnom Penh, a global network of collaborators focused on making a positive impact in Cambodia, the latest business incubator TekHub, and SmallWorld where Cambodian entrepreneurs and digital nomads can connect with the large communities. The tech entrepreneurs are so enthusiastic to build their startups to market here and hopefully in Southeast Asia. In January 2017, a new startup accelerator and incubator will be opened in the heart of Phnom Penh. Trybe is going to be a place where people make, do, and share. A maker-space, a co-working space, startup focal point all in one. With these startup communities continue grow like mushrooms in rainy season, Phnom Penh is becoming a charming city of startups. A more premium class work space is just a few walks away from Wat Phnom: Rain Tree Development. “Nurturing entrepreneur spirits falls within our core values. We’ve been working with Impact Hub and Tekhub since the beginning,” Vireak Ouk, SINET’s Chief Operating Officer, told me recently.
Since 2011, Phnom Penh’s coffee culture has been growing rapidly and remarkably. To offer their customers the world class in-store experience, many of the coffee shops use dedicated Internet service to serve hundreds of customers with multiple devices each day. Some of these coffee stores are local coffee chain Brown Coffee and Bakery, Coffee Bean Tea & Leaf, and Joma Bakery Café.
There is much more to see happening in 2017 as Cambodian tech entrepreneurs are looking forward to a more growing number of mobile Internet users to tap into. Those co-working spaces and cafes with high speed Internet connections are the new, modern home offices for tinkerers and innovators to build the next big things in Cambodia.
Friends & foes of media & journalism, please chip in to help Cambodian veteran journalist Saing Soenthrith. Soenthrith has been with The Cambodia Daily for more than 20 years. Over the past 6 months, 76 people donated to the cause to the get the dialysis for his serious kidney problems. At the time of writing this post, 93% of $10,000 goal has been achieved.
Starting December 12, The Giving Tree School will host the Giving Week with several initiatives and events to give back to children in need. My son, Tom, has been a kindergartner with the Giving Tree School for over a year.
I will be giving a set of Raspberry Pi 3 Starter Kit to the Rabbit School, selected by the Giving Tree School as one of the recipients of donation. If you’re interested in giving, please let me know. You can email me the items you want to donate to tharum at gmail dot com. Happy 2017!