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Mfone eschews pricing war

Mobile firm plans to target specific sectors of the marketplace

MOBILE provider Mfone has changed its strategy to target specific sectors of Cambodia’s population this quarter, rather than entering a telecommunications price war, its CEO said Monday.

Adisai Soonthornratanarak told the Post that the decision to move away from competing solely on price was made in the second quarter of 2010, following the implementation of a government prakas, or edict, which set minimum levels for tariff plans last year.

Admitting that the company “struggled” in the wake of government regulations, he said the firm has now rethought its approach to competing in the Kingdom’s crowded mobile sector.

“The price war is going nowhere. Even now, no one is admitting they lose money, but most of us do. If we just jump into the price war, we don’t know where it will end,” he said.

“Differentiating yourself is the key to success. We believe people have different lifestyles, different roles in life,” he added.

Mfone is now tailoring SIM packages to different segments of society. On Saturday, the company announced the soft launch of a new SIM card.

The Serenade Mekong SIM offers a flat rate of US$0.18 a minute for travellers roaming through Cambodia, Laos, and Thailand through agreements with other companies owned by parent firm Thaicom.

Marketed towards businessmen, it is slated to become available later this month. Mfone hopes to attract 50,000 customers to the premium SIM by the end of the year.Mfone has previously released a SIM focused on Cambodia’s 100,000-strong ethnic Chinese community and seperate SIMs targeted at teens and rural people.

“If we do this well, we can reach target of over a million subscribers by the end of the year,” the CEO said.

Mfone’s Cambodian subscriber base fell 28 percent for the first quarter of this year, compared to 2009, according to May statistics issued by majority owner Thaicom. Mfone lost US$1.01 million operating in the Kingdom during the first three months this year, compared to a $3.14 million profit for the same period in 2009, according to Thaicom.

Government figures released in May estimated that Mfone is Cambodia’s fourth-largest mobile provider by subscriber base.

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