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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Beeline becomes 9th mobile operator

Beeline becomes 9th mobile operator

090519_15.jpg
090519_15.jpg

New 90 percent Russian-owned mobile network holds official launch in capital.

Photo by:
STEVE FINCH

A shop owner sells Beeline mobile-phone credit using the 090 prefix Monday in Tonle Bassac, Phnom Penh. 

THE Kingdom's newest entrant to the increasingly crowded mobile operator market officially launched Monday, two weeks after it started offering its services.

Beeline said it registered 100,000 users in its first fortnight of operations, 60,000 of whom are active.

Vladimir Riabokon, executive vice president of Vimpelcom Group, which owns the Beeline brand under its local Sotelco subsidiary, said the company is aiming for 500,000 customers by December.

"Seventy percent of Cambodian people are under 30 years of age, and the market penetration rate is around 25 percent," he said. "This presents incredible potential for our services."

 we want to be one of the market

leaders in the country.

He claimed the firm's competitors are cutting spending, which he said gives Beeline - the ninth operator in the Cambodian market - a chance to take market share. The company is also looking at buying a 3G licence.
"We want 6 percent market share by the end of this year and 20 percent within three years, because we want to be one of the market leaders in the country," he said.

Riabokon said the company had budgeted US$200 million over the next three years and would spend $70 million this year on Beeline alone.

"The commercial start of the Beeline brand in Cambodia is the first launch by a Russian telecommunications operator under its own brand in Southeast Asia," he said.

Gael Campan, general director at Sotelco, said at the launch that Beeline had coverage in 11 provinces, covering more than one-third of the population and aims to reach two-thirds of the country's 14 million people by December.

Campan said Beeline has 180 branded retail stands and five sales offices in Phnom Penh, Preah Sihanouk, Siem Reap, Battambang and Kampong Cham.

By the end of the year, he predicted the company would have 5,000 point-of-sale zones and 1,700 specialised stores selling SIM cards.

Touch Heng, an undersecretary of state at the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, said he hopes Beeline can achieve plans to provide a cheap, high-quality service.

"The rate [5 US cents for a local call and 15 cents for an international call] offered by Beeline is a very good price for users because Cambodians want low prices and a high-quality service," he said.

The VimpelCom Group also operates the Beeline brand in Russia, Kazakhstan, Ukraine, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, Georgia and Armenia, and will launch in Vietnam later this year.

VimpelCom Group holds a 90 percent stake in Sotelco, with the remaining 10 percent owned by an unidentified Cambodian entrepreneur who local company that holds a GSM licence.

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