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BlackBerry coming to Cambodia

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090407_15.jpg

Handsets due for launch later this year, says Cellcard Mobitel, following discussions with RIM

BLOOMBERG

BlackBerry handsets are set to be sold in Cambodia for the first time on a Mobitel subscription, with prices still to be determined.

CELLCARD Mobitel, Cambodia's leading mobile phone company by market share, is planning to launch BlackBerry handsets in the Kingdom within the next few months, Royal Group's chief financial officer said Monday.

Mark Hanna told the Post that the Royal Group - which owns a 38.5 percent stake in Mobitel - has been in negotiations with Canada-based Research in Motion (RIM), which manufactures BlackBerries, ahead of a Cambodia launch later this year.

"The board has approved it," Hanna said, referring to the proposed handset deal with technology manufacturer RIM.

BlackBerries are to be sold in the Kingdom on a subscription basis that Hanna admitted would see retail handsets sold initially at a high cost.

BlackBerry requires that the phone service providers pay a subscription fee for each handset on the network, a cost that Hanna said would inevitably be passed on to the consumer.

Mobitel must also invest in a BlackBerry email server, he added, a  fixed cost that could be absorbed through developing the subscriber base over time.

The more subscribers you have, the cheaper it [a Blackberry] is.

"The more subscribers you have, the cheaper it [a BlackBerry] is," said Hanna, adding that the company is yet to finalise its BlackBerry retail prices.

Mobile expansion

Mobitel last month received US$100 million in loans - $40 million from the International Finance Corporation and $60 million from private foreign banks - which the company plans to use as part of a $350 million expansion program over the next three years, it said.

The company said it will launch a range of new products and services during this period, including the Blackberries, as it seeks to consolidate its dominant position in the Cambodian mobile phone market, which has become increasingly saturated with the addition new operators, including Viettel which launched officially in February.

The company already holds a 55 percent market share, with Camshin the second-biggest operator with about 18 percent.

BlackBerries, which offer 3G mobile services including email, have already been launched in most ASEAN countries except for Brunei, Myanmar and Laos, according to the BlackBerry website.

Strong BlackBerry sales

RIM has defied a general slump in the mobile phone industry following the global financial crisis, announcing strong financial results on Thursday.

Sales are projected to reach $3.5 billion in the period ending May 30, Bloomberg reported, which prompted shares in the telecoms company Friday to surge the most since December 2003 on the Nasdaq. 

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