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Beeline ends its Mobitel spat

Official confirms that things are ‘back to normal’ after legal action was sought last year, as international superstar Pitbull arrives to entertain Phnom Penh

MOBILE operator Beeline has ended its legal conflict with market leader Mobitel over allegations of “dishonest competition”, its general director, Gael Campan, said at an event marking the company’s one year anniversary in Cambodia.

“Frankly speaking all things are back to normal,” he said at Phnom Penh’s Raffles Hotel on Monday, referring to allegations of price-dumping, “illegally” using Mobitel prefixes, and blocked interconnectivity between the two carriers.

The issues sparked Mobitel to file legal action last August against Beeline for using the market leader’s prefixes without permission, deputy prosecutor Sok Roeun said last year, and cited accusations of unfair competition.

Though neglecting to go into detail about the conclusion of the law suit, Campan said that relations between mobile providers had improved since December 2009 and returned to normal by January or February.

“Now it’s back to a satisfactory situation,” he said.

Owned by Moscow-based VimpelCom, Beeline claimed at the Monday event to have the fourth-largest market share among Cambodia’s nine providers, achieving over 500,000 subscribers at the end of the first quarter of 2010.

According to government statistics released by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications last week, which counted the active SIM cards in the market, Beeline had the sixth-largest market share nationally.

Gael Campan declined to estimate its percentage share of the total market, citing concerns over competition.

“In the battlefield you don’t want the other guy to know where you are,” he said.

Instead he cited a public perception survey that claimed Beeline stood third for overall usage in Cambodia and second in Phnom Penh itself.

“Percentages aren’t important. What is important are the trends. [Our results] are a strong achievement as we arrived at number nine in this market one year ago,” he said.

The most recent mobile provider to set up in the Kingdom, Beeline operated in full compliance with the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications’ prakas on minimum tariffs, Campan said, though he voiced his displeasure with the edict.

“The way I look at it, it is not a fully satisfactory situation,” he said, and added that the tariff pushes mobile-phone service out of reach for many of the Kingdom’s poor.

“Some just cannot afford it. Some people are limited in purchasing power.”

Almost 80 percent of the Kingdom’s population in 21 of 24 provinces received coverage from Beeline, which was potentially the number one mobile-internet provider in the country, according to Campan’s presentation at the event.

“The success we are sharing today is largely the result of the talent of Cambodian people,” he said.

He added that Beeline concentrated on marketing creatively rather than simply spending more.

A spokesman for the Royal Group, which owns Mobitel, declined to comment.

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