December 2, 2011

ClickNet looks to have signed off


A closed sign hung on the door of ClickNet’s Phnom Penh office during business hours yesterday, and the internet service provider’s Siem Reap office had also reportedly closed.

ClickNet’s internet service has been down in Siem Reap since Monday, Thaddée Bechtold, CEO at internet technologies firm SFPDA, said yesterday. Although ClickNet claimed technical problems at the time, a company representative on Wednesday told Bechtold that he could not reach ClickNet officials in Phnom Penh and that the ISP would discontinue the service.

“The good news is ClickNet closed just before [customers] pay their bills,” Bechtold said, referring to several SFPDA customers who used ClickNet’s server services.

“The bad point was [ClickNet’s] attitude. There was no warning.”

A 20-year-old security guard on duty yesterday outside ClickNet’s office on Street 214 in Phnom Penh’s Sangkat Boueng Raing district said yesterday the office had been closed for days.

The company had gone bankrupt, he said, standing beside a glass door held shut with a bicycle lock.

Officials at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications could not be reached for comment yesterday, but industry insiders estimated there were up to 20 active ISPs in Cambodia, and potentially more than 30 ISP licenses issued.

Figures regarding the size and scope of ClickNet’s business were not immediately available.

When ISPs in the Kingdom’s highly competitive yet low-return industry go out of business, they tend to go quietly. “They just disappear,” said Hy Borin, a local systems administrator who asked that his company not be mentioned because he was not authorised to speak to the media in an official capacity.

ClickNet, which entered the Cambodian market about two years ago, had been struggling, Hy Borin claimed. But heated price competition has taken a toll on all of the Kingdom’s ISPs. Prices for internet connections have dropped significantly even during the past year, he said.

“Three or four years ago, it was good business, but now no one is doing well. The price [for connections] just keeps going down and down and down,” Hy Borin said.

A high number of ISPs in a market with an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 users not only depletes company revenues, but limits future investment from large international firms, Cambodia Broadband CEO KW Lee said yesterday.

Cambodia’s provider-to-user ratio presented a high level of risk to potential investors, he said.

“When a country has 30 ISP providers, big companies will think twice about investing,” KW Lee said yesterday. “The number of licences issued must be controlled.” Calls to ClickNet’s Phnom Penh and Siem Reap offices, as well as to a 24-hour technical service hotline listed on ClickNet’s website, went unanswered.

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