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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Pricing deadline looms for telcos

Pricing deadline looms for telcos

091222_10
A cyclist passes mobile-phone advertisements on Phnom Penh’s Japanese Friendship Bridge.

Cambodia’s mobile-phone companies must raise tariffs from today, according to a recent edict

Mobile Tariffs under scrutiny
Here is a breakdown of current pricing. All charges per minute:

  • Star-Cell - $0.05 within network, $0.10 across network
  • qb - $3 for 300 minutes within network per month, and $0.02 per additional minutes, $0.10 across network
  • Excel - $0.03 within network, $0.07 across network
  • Beeline - Super Zero tariff charges users for one minute for the first 15 of any call within the network, $0.06 across network
  • Smart Mobile - WOW tariff gives 30 minutes free per day on $5 credit or more, extra minutes are $0.02, $0.08 across network
  • Mobitel - $0.05 within network, $0.10 across network
  • Hello - $0.07 within and across network
  • Metfone - $0.072 within network and $0.10 across network on MetFotever tariff, $0.06/$0.09 on MetEco tariff
  • Mfone - $0.08 within network, $0.12 across network

ASENIOR telecoms official warned Monday that the government would begin enforcing a new pricing prakas, or edict, from today, and mobile providers remained tight-lipped about tariff changes.

Call-centre operators spoken to by the Post said changes were imminent, but that they had not yet been notified by managers.

The need for a pricing and marketing revamp throughout the sector follows a government inter-ministerial prakas announced on December 10 that gave operators 15 days from the date it was signed by Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhun, December 7.

Mao Chakrya, director general at the Telecoms Ministry, confirmed the deadline and said the ministry would begin investigating operators for compliance this week.

“They need to comply from Tuesday, and we will be looking closely at what they do,” he said Monday.

The new edict bars operators from offering calls within their networks below US$0.045 per minute, not including taxes. It also made binding a long-standing agreement setting the cost for across-network calls at $0.0595 per minute.

Special call promotions of up to one month are possible in which within-network calls can drop to 50 percent of the minimum tariff, but these require prior approval.

Companies change tariffs
Mobile-phone operator Star-Cell appeared to be treating the deadline seriously, terminating registration today for a special mobile-phone tariff offering $0.01 per minute for calls to other Star-Cell customers and $0.07 per minute across networks.

The promotion was due to run until December 31, though the operator said customers who had already registered would continue to receive the discounted calls.

The operator, which is owned by Applifone Co, has set its within-network tariffs at $0.05 per minute and across-network tariffs at $0.10 per minute, above the government’s new minimum tariff. However, off-peak calls between midnight and 7am are set at $0.025 and $0.08 within and across networks, respectively.

Star-Cell Marketing Director Chong Harth referred questions to Chief Executive Centre Tolga Gedikoglu, but he did not reply for a request for comment.

Mobitel has announced on its Web site a new tariff schedule from today, with calls within the network charged at $0.05 per minute and across network at $0.10.

The situation at qb is potentially more complex, with 300 minutes of within-network calls bundled in a $3 monthly package including voice, SMS and MMS, which works out at just $0.01 per minute for the voice calls alone.

Across-network tariffs are set at $0.10 per minute, and within-network calls over the monthly limit at $0.02 per minute.

A network centre operator said Monday that he had not been informed of any plan to change the tariff.

Farouq Abu Saleh, the chief operating officer at CADCOMMS, which operates the qb network, did not reply to an emailed request for information on the company’s pricing plans, and Director Ben Khudair could not be reached Monday.

Metfone, operated by Viettel, a subsidiary of the Vietnamese military, has two prepaid packages, both set above the minimum tariff.

Mfone is also in line with the new edict, aside from its off-peak calls between midnight and 7am, which are charged at just $0.024 per minute.
Excel charges $0.03 and $0.07 per minute for within- and across-network calls, respectively.

An Excel call-centre operator said Monday that prices were scheduled to change in the New Year, but added she did not have details at this stage.
A call-centre operator at Beeline said the company’s Super Zero tariff, which charges

users only for one minute for the first 15 of any call within the Beeline network, would finish at the end of the year to be replaced by new tariff packages.

However, he said the call centre had not yet been given details. Beeline no longer advertises the package on its Web site.

Beeline General Director Gael Campan said last week he was preparing a response and would release details at a later date. He could not be reached for comment Monday.

Thomas Hundt, chief executive officer at Smart Mobile, which allows users to make free calls for up to 30 minutes each day for those who top up with $5 or more of credit, said the company was not yet ready to release a statement.

A Smart Mobile call-centre operator spoken to by the Post said she had not heard of any impending changes.

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