Image copyright: © Australian War Memorial,
Creative Commons License This image is licensed under CC BY-NC

ID number P03258.078
Collection Photograph
Object type Black & white - Film original negative 35mm safety base
Photographer Smith, Heide
Place made Cambodia
Date made 1993


A member of the United Nations Transitional Authority in Cambodia (UNTAC) uses a Telecom payphone at the Australian Force Communications Unit (FCU) base at Battambang as a group of UNTAC soldiers gathers in the background. Cambodia's ruined telecommunication system had suffered from years of neglect - the only domestic network was in Phnom Penh city and international calls had to be made through an exchange in Moscow at the Phnom Penh Post Office where a six hour wait was normal. Through his company SOCONS, Stig Engstrom, (a Swedish aid worker married to Australian Lyndall McLean, then Phnom Penh deputy administrator for the Civil Administration Component (CIVADMIN) of UNTAC) secured the contract to establish an OTC network in Cambodia. Demand for more telecommunications channels was such that almost immediately after the system was established, Engstrom's company was obliged to increase capacity from seven to 18 to 36 channels.