What will Cambodia look like in 2017?

My short, sweet answer: Cambodians will empty more cups of coffee and enjoy faster Internet than ever!

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.

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Impact Hub Phnom Penh, a coworking & events space for those who start out their business in Cambodia. Photo: Tharum Bun

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 to 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.

More coffee, faster Internet

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.

This post was first appeared at ThaRum’s blog: Cambodia: tech startups and coffee culture

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