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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Metfone rises in mobile market

Metfone rises in mobile market

Viettel moves ahead of competition to become Mobitel’s biggest challenger

SIM SHARE BREAKDOWN


The difficulties in estimating SIM use

This graph comparing mobile-phone market share is derived from statistics released by the Ministry of Posts and Communications. The November data estimated companies’ market penetration. The March data shows market share for Q1, based on numbers of active SIM cards in Cambodia. Mobile data are difficult to analyse, as companies define active SIMs in different ways.
Source: MPTC
JON TURNER AND ELLIE DYER

TELECOMMUNICATION giant Viettel has replaced Mfone as the biggest challenger to mobile-phone market leader Mobitel, data released by the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) Wednesday indicate.

First quarter statistics – which measure the number of active SIM card users for Cambodia’s nine mobile-phone operators – show that CAM GSM, known as Mobitel and run by the Royal Group, has won around 37.7 percent share of the 7.1 million-strong SIM card market, with around 2.7 million active cards.

Vietnamese firm Viettel, which runs Metfone, has 24.1 percent with around 1.7 million, with Hello third at 12.8 percent, and Mfone at 9.6 percent, according to MPTC data.

Star-Cell, Beeline and Smart Mobile are grouped in fifth, sixth and seventh places respectively, hovering between 4 and 5 percent of the estimated active cards in operation.

In comparison, statistics issued to the Post by the MPTC in November put Mobitel in the top spot followed by Mfone, Metfone and Hello respectively. That data measured estimated market penetration for Cambodia’s mobile-phone companies, but did not explain how it was calculated.

MPTC Director General Moa Chakrya said Wednesday that the total number of mobile-phone users in Cambodia had risen in the past year. The statistics show that there were 6.3 million users at the end of 2009, up from an estimated 3.8 million in 2008.

“Competition is growing. The [operators] always find ways to get customers, so users have more ability to use phones. The price [of SIMs] is getting cheaper and some operators offer SIM cards for free,” he said.

Many Cambodians own multiple cards to make the most of promotional offers, mobile-phone users told the Post in March. This accounts for the high number of active SIMs compared to estimated users.

Competition within Cambodia’s mobile phone sector has also reached the forefront of government policy over the past year. In December, mobile-phone operators were ordered by the MPTC and the Ministry of Finance to raise tariffs to at least US$0.045 per minute in a bid to end a price war that the government felt was undermining profitability in the sector. A second prakas, or edict, ensured connectivity between providers in the crowded sector.

According to Sieng Sithy, deputy director of the Directorate of Telecommunications Policies Regulation at the MPTC, the first quarter statistics are an amalgamation of data sent to the ministry by operators each month. He noted that methods of counting active SIM cards vary from operator to operator.

“It depends on each operator’s measurements. Generally, [they it base on] a three months policy. If the number is not active within three months then it is removed. But some operators use a six-month basis, while others only one month.”

The difficulty in measuring the number of active SIM cards was emphasised by officials from Cambodia’s newest operator, Beeline, which is owned by Russian company Vimpelcom and entered the market one year ago.

General Director Gael Campan wrote in an email to the Post on Wednesday: “I am afraid that MPTC figures could be quite deceptive. There are no detailed definitions of what is an active subscriber therefore you never compare apple with apple.”

Representatives from Viettel, Mfone, Smart Mobile and Hello – which all saw their positions in the market change – did not reply to requests for comment made on Wednesday.

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