Government Bans Opennet from Taking on New Customers over $6.6 Million Debt

Photo from Facebook of OPENNET

Having owed the government millions of dollars for years, King Technologies—owner of internet service provider Opennet—has been banned from selling its services to new customers

PHNOM PENH--Following on from a warning issued by the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications on Feb. 10, the authorities have decided to ban King Technologies, the parent company of internet service provider Opennet, from signing up new customers after it has failed to repay $6.6 million that the government says the company owes.

So Visothy, spokesperson for the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications, said that current customers of Opennet will not be affected by the debt row.

“The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia will take action in accordance with the license and applicable laws and regulations, to urge internet provider Opennet to settle its debt and minimize the impact on customers,” he added.

Visothy, said that there are 38 other licensed internet service providers operating in Cambodia, so the closure of Opennet’s operation will not affect the competitive market in terms of conditions, price, and options for acquiring internet access.

The Ministry of Post and Telecommunications informed Opennet in early 2021, back when the company’s debt was thought to be around $1.3 million. However, the ministry has accused the company of avoiding repayments and failing to attend meetings with the inter-ministerial working group established to deal with the debt settlement.

“For the last time, [the ministry] gave one month for the company to make a clear decision on settling the debt, but the company has not come to solve [the problem] yet,” Visothy said.

As of Feb. 10, the Ministry of Economy and Finance and the Ministry of Post and Telecommunications announced that Opennet has yet to settle the debt with the state, nor has it shared its revenue duty or fulfilled its universal service obligation. Combined with a capacity building research and development fund granted from 2018 to 2020, the company owes some $6.6 million.

“The ministry has taken action with the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia to issue a suspension of the company’s license, and the ministry’s team will temporarily shut down the company this week,” Visothy said.

Staff at Opennet refused to discuss the issue while the company itself is yet to offer any statement on the matter.

Regarding the issue, a staff working at this Internet provider Opennet refused to tell further information while the company has yet to provide any statement to the media.

Customers Divided

One of Opennet’s former customers, 21-year-old Heng Socheata, said she had been using services provided by Opennet since 2016, and the news regarding the ban and debt shocked her and broke her trust in the company.

“I was shocked because we all know that Opennet is famous for collecting money from customers and not doing their job properly. But I have to say that the employees are innocent, so they are probably more in shock than [I am],” she said.

Being a customer for six years, Socheata said her experience with the company’s services were patchy at best.

“I encountered countless of problems with the internet. [For example], I was disconnected in the middle of meeting or call, and it [caused] me some great loss—I [could not] concentrate and could not catch up in class because I was busy fixing [the connection],” she said.

“This company [was] not my [favorite], but they just need more room to improve in terms of their services—customer services [providers] are not solving the problems, and the app they have somehow doesn’t really work,” she added. “And, they even collect [the payment] from customers at home, so we [didn’t] need to go personally to company to pay monthly, but that service is also lacking, they come to collect late every month.”

Needing internet access for online learning as a senior student at the Department of English at Institute of Foreign Languages, Royal University of Phnom Penh, Socheata, however, continued to choose Opennet’s Internet service provider due to its competitive prices and the convenience for the customers of not having to pay the bill directly at the company.

“I [had] two reasons. First, this was more acceptable to use in terms of price. Second, [it was] because of COVID-19 that we [were] afraid that if we changed to another [company’s service], then we would interact with more people, and we don’t know where they are from since we have to keep social distancing,” she reasoned.

Socheata said that, on top of that, the problem is the boss who is not taking responsibility and the company has broken many people’s trust, including hers. Expressing her opinion, Socheata has decided not to use the service provided by Opennet anymore by changing to another internet service provider company.

Despite the debt row that Opennet has become embroiled in, other customers like Bou Sobroney—a senior student of Management at the National University of Management—remain optimistic about the company’s services.

“Firstly, other companies’ service often lagged and disconnected, [but] this company is different – it will not get disconnected unless we forget to pay. And secondly, there is one desktop running with another 10 laptops [connecting to the Wi-Fi] in my office, but the connection is stable. That was even the smallest package, $16 per month,” she said.

Sobroney said she still trusts the company, regardless of what the state says about debt, and rated it eight out of 10.

Related Articles