By Kang Sothear, The Cambodia Daily

The government signed a $70 million investment agreement with a Chinese-owned telecommunication infrastructure provider on Wednesday to connect Cambodia to a 25,000-km underwater fiber-optic network spanning three continents.

The new infrastructure, expected to be operational by 2017, will bring faster and cheaper Internet to the country, according to company and government officials.

The Cambodia Fiber Optic Communication Network (CFOCN), a wholly owned subsidiary of the HyalRoute Group, signed the 25-year, $69.7 million build-operate-transfer deal with the ministry in an afternoon ceremony.

The firm will link Cambodia to the Asia-Africa-Europe-1 (AAE-1)—a submarine network with 100-gigabit-per-second technology and capacity for more than 40 terabits—via a connection point in the Gulf of Thailand off the coast of Sihanoukville.

“The AAE-1 ventures are to be the largest, newest cable constructed, to link all major Asian, African, Middle Eastern and European nations,” read a press release from HyalRoute. “It is expected to significantly bridge the digital divide between Cambodia and developed areas in the world.”

A consortium of 19 global telecommunications firms signed an agreement to develop the network in January 2014. It currently links to 19 countries, with the Cambodia branch expected to be operational by the end of 2017, according to the press release.

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