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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mobitel users blast promotion after network hobbled by load

Mobitel users blast promotion after network hobbled by load

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Mobitel customers overloaded the Cellcard network Friday during calling special.

Cellcard customers say they couldn’t make outgoing calls on Friday during free call offer; company says it’s adding servers to handle traffic

A special Mobitel calling promotion last week drew the ire of customers when the increased traffic clogged the network.
The Cellcard Surprise special allowed users to make free phone calls to up to 10 pre-registered numbers all day Friday.

Tith Chandara, a year-four English communications major at Norton University, said free calls were pointless when he could not even get through to his friends.

"I absolutely don't want these kinds of promotions to be held again because it made it really hard for me to call out," he said.

He recommended Cambodia's largest mobile phone operator instead stick to loyalty-based promotions. "If they have a kind of promotion that when we top up we get bonus money, everyone will be happy," he said.

Royal University of Phnom Penh graduate student Chou Chinith said he almost switched to a different operator as he urgently needed to discuss his thesis with his supervisor.

"[The day] was a big loss," he said. "If they can provide that promotion and the network still works smoothly, then that would be great. But if it is so hard to do that, there is no need to have the promotion."

Mixed result
Mam Sothea, Mobitel's administration and logistics manager, acknowledged that the call volume overloaded the network. However, he maintained the promotion had been a success, with the number of callers being much higher than expected.

"We understand the difficulties our customers had in terms of calling out, but it was because we did not expect that so many of our customers would take up the promotion," he said.

He refused to disclose the number of calls made during the promotion, citing "commercial sensitivity".
Mam Sothea added that the company was expanding the number of servers in its network to handle increased traffic.

Sold
Mobitel, which operates the Cellcard network, is owned by Cambodian holding company Royal Group and NASDAQ-listed Millicom International Cellular SA.

The Luxembourg-based mobile operator announced last week it would sell its 58.4 percent stake in the operator to Royal Group for $346 million, ending a 14-year relationship. The transaction is expected to be completed in late 2009.

Royal Group currently holds a 38.5 percent stake in Mobitel and former Millicom employee Muhammad Akhtar Zaman the remaining 3.1 percent share.

Zaman told the Post earlier this month that he planned to follow Millicom's lead and also divest his stake in Mobitel.

According to Millicom's financial results for the first quarter, Mobitel added 52,620 users this year up to the end of March, a 16 percent year-on-year increase that brought its total number of users to 2.17 million.

There are currently nine operators in the country, a situation many analysts say is untenable in the long term.

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