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Edict on mobile sector to set minimum tariffs

091208_07
Traffic filters past mobile-phone advertisements in Phnom Penh. The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications is due Wednesday to tell telecoms companies of its new minimum tariffs.

Ministry plans to inform telecoms firms in Wednesday meeting

ALONG-AWAITED edict setting minimum tariffs in the mobile-phone sector was signed by the government Friday, telecoms Minister So Khun said Monday.

The prakas on tariffs, which was developed to end an ongoing price war that government officials – including Prime Minster Hun Sen – have said was destabilising the sector, was signed by So Khun and Keat Chhon, his equivalent at the Ministry of Economy and Finance.

“We offered free-market principles, but operators kept having conflicts with one another, so the government needs to have a hand in it,” So Khun said. The government will suspend the licence of any operators that violate the minimum tariff set by the edict, he added.

So Khun declined to give details of the prakas or when it will take effect, but said it will be unveiled Wednesday afternoon. Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications Secretary of State Sarak Khan said the minimum would apply to calls within and across networks.

It was set after the government analysed costs and profit information submitted by the nine mobile-phone operators in the Kingdom. Sarak Khan said the ministries followed international practice based on a formula from the International Telecommunication Union, but did not provide further details.

Simon Perkins, CEO of Hello, said he supported the initiative “to bring some structure to the telecom tarrifs, in the absence of the usual competition guidelines and rules that exist in a lot of markets”.

He said he expected the edict would be the first step in a long process to bring stability to the sector.

“We need to work with [the ministry] on further projects to review the whole regulation framework, licensing, tariffs, interconnect, infrastructure sharing … [these] are just a few of the priorities to work on,” Perkins said.

The prakas is the second of two developed to bring structure to the sector after a dispute between market leader Mobitel and new entrant Beeline earlier this year that involved accusations of call-blocking and price-dumping. The first edict, which regulated interconnectivity agreements, was passed on October 5.

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