Info: Mobile Telephone Providers in Cambodia

© Krzysiek_z_poczty | Dreamstime Stock Photos & Stock Free Images

I see questions about Cambodian mobile networks come up all the time.  So I thought I'd put together some info for travellers and expats on the mobile phone options in Cambodia.

Choosing a Cambodian Mobile Telco

Local cross-network calls - All carriers charge pretty much the same rate, 7-8 cents per minute.

Local cross-network SMS - All carriers charge a similar rate, normally 5 cents per message

On network calls and SMS - Most travellers won't be interested in on-network rates, but if you're living here and you can convince your friends and family to use the same network, you can get some very cheap calls.  Some carriers include free on-network SMSs, with others you can covert credit to on-network credit to receive bonuses.  Smart offers some of the most competitive on network rates and bonuses.

International SMS - All carriers charge 10 cents per message

International calls - This is where you need to do your homework.  Rates vary quite significantly.  Smart is, in general, cheapest, but if you're calling home a lot, it's worth checking which carrier offers the best rates to your country.  Also remember that most carriers require you to use a prefix to get the best international call rates.  This can be annoying, especially if you're using numbers that are saved in your phone. If you want to avoid this hassle use Smart or Metfone, as they don't use prefixes.

Data - Rates for data also vary significantly and most carriers have data packages as well.  For pay as you go data, qb is cheapest at 1c/MB.  Beeline offers the cheapest packages ($5/month for 3GB or $10/month for unlimited). Metfone seems to offer the best overall service quality at reasonable rates.

Credit validity - If, like me, you don't use your phone much, you should think about credit validity. qb offers the best validity ($1 is valid for 45 days, or $20 is valid for 365 days).  Smart also offers good credit validity, and has an option to extend your validity for 365 days.

Service coverage - As you might expect, the Big 3 (Metfone, Smart and Cellcard) provide better network coverage, however qb roams onto one of the larger networks in places where they don't have coverage.   In the cities, any of the Big 3 will provide adequate coverage, but if you're going to far-flung places, Metfone generally has the best coverage in the country and is the only carrier available in some locations (e.g., Koh Rong Samloen).

Network - While most providers have 3G+ networks in the city, generally outside of the cities they all revert to 2G. 

For more information, here's a summary of the five carriers and with links to their rates.  Please note, there are many packages, plans and promotions available, but for simplicity I've compared and provided information based on the basic prepaid plans of each provider.

Fast facts: 7 million subscribers; 3G; owned by Viettel
Quick Links: TariffsInternational Call RatesData packages,
Best for: Service coverage - Metfone has arguably the best network coverage in Cambodia

Fast facts: 5 million subscribers; 3.75G; owned by Latelz and part of the Axiata group
Quick Links: TariffsInternational Call RatesData packagesCredit validity
Best for: International calls and on-network calls, or extra long credit validity

Fast facts: 4 million subscribers; 3.5G; also known as Mobitel, owned by CamGSM
Quick Links: TariffsInternational Call Rates (prefix required), Data packagesCredit validity

Fast facts: 600,000 subscribers; 2G; owned by Sotelco
Quick Links: TariffsInternational Call Rates (prefix required), Data packagesCredit validity
Best for: Cheap data packages

Fast facts: 3.75G network in the city; owned by CADcomms
Quick Links:  TariffsInternational Call Rates (prefix required), Data packagesCredit validity
Best for: Low volume users (long credit validity), and cheap pay as you go data

Cambodia also has one CDMA carrier, with a very limited network,  Excell, which you can check out here

Disclaimer: I have personally used Cellcard, Smart and Metfone.  I do not have any personal experience with Beeline or qb.  The information above is based on information currently published and publicly available.

If you've got any more information or recommendations on Cambodian mobile networks, please leave a comment.

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Go: National Library of Cambodia

Force ties for a time. Ideas bind forever

As a die-hard lover of books and libraries, I've been wanting to visit the National Library of Cambodia for quite some time.  It's also been on my to do list as one of the Jewels of Phnom Penh (I am trying to get to all of them - very, very slowly). Unfortunately, for me, visiting the National Library is easier said than done - it's open Monday to Friday, from 8am-11am, and 2pm-5pm - not particularly convenient for those of us with jobs.

But the other day, I finally did it.  The Library is housed in a lovely, well-maintained colonial building.  Right next door to the equally beautiful Hotel Le Royal.

The outside has been carefully restored (by students of the School of Fine Arts, I believe).  And includes intricate decorations and friezes.

There's the French quote above, and it's Cambodian equivalent.​​​​​​  The Cambodian version sits above the door to the souvenir shop, which I doubt ever opens.

Another Cambodian piece, on the other side of the building, holds a much simpler message: look; learn.

Inside, the building is still grand, but somewhat less ornate.  Although there are some more friezes, and some lovely wooden furniture.

A few students from the University across the road sit at long tables and endure reprimanding stares from the staff if they get too loud.  I enjoyed flicking through some of the books in the reference library, checking out where the book had come from. Some were stamped as donations from the National Libraries of other countries or from Embassies, a couple had the mark "US Army Salvage" stamped heavily inside.  A few new volumes hid among an array of outdated encyclopaedias.

There is a small lending library, which a foreigner can join for $10 per year (if I remember right) and Cambodians can join for a much more modest sum.  The collection includes books in Khmer, English and French, and to be honest, the book-lover in me was tempted, but the problem is the Library is just too out of the way for me and the opening times too inconvenient.  But I enjoyed perusing the dusty shelves with a mix of books and disused typewriters and office furniture.

I think my favourite thing in the whole room was these beautiful old catalogue boxes (do they have a proper name?).  Oh, what I wouldn't give to take one of these babies home.

I asked whether they were still used (given the state of the rest of the library, I honestly wasn't sure).  But, no, they've been replaced by a catalogue, which is also online.  Everything in the catalogue is in the library, I'm told. When I request a couple of books, the librarian says she'll bring them if she sees them.  I'm not very hopeful, but 10 minutes later she appears with one of the two requests.

I chatted to her for a while about the woes of the library.  I'm told that the contents of a large box on counter marked "Donations" are used to fix the photocopier and the like.  "Not for books?", I ask.  No, the only books are donations, she tells me sadly, it's not like libraries in your country.  No, indeed, it's not.

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