Cambodia's nine phone service operators plan to establish an independent body to debate issues within the industry, according to a statement yesterday from the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC).
Forming the Association of Telecommunications Operators in Cambodia, or the ATC for short, was agreed upon in principle at a meeting with the TRC on December 13, the statement said.
The new association is described as providing “a single voice for debate and to improve discussion with the TRC”.
Thomas Hundt, CEO of one of the larger providers, Smart, said the idea for the ATC was put together years ago, but it never came to fruition.
While the organisation will encourage discussion between rival companies on issues such as pricing regulation, technological changes and Cambodian telecommunications law, Hundt said it would not be a panacea for every industry conflict.
“In no way can a common voice be guaranteed by the ATC. It is unlikely that most issues will be agreed upon. We are competitors, after all,” he said.
Hundt stressed that the organisation was still in the planning stage and no initial meeting or schedule had been set.
In the same statement, the regulator said that all nine providers had agreed to “follow and implement” government regulations relating to Prakas 232, enforcing fixed mobile phone charges of 4.5 cents per minute inside a network and 5.95 cents between different networks.
The government reinforced the minimum price-fixing on November 28, more than three years after the rules were drafted, in an attempt to “ensure fair competition”. The announcement received widespread backlash from mobile phone users and telecom operators earlier this month.
Mobitel and Smart were yesterday found to be offering 100 per cent top-up bonuses as part of a holiday promotion, seemingly contradicting Prakas 232.
Hundt said, however, the bonuses were in line with the regulator’s rules allowing promotions during holidays. Mobitel CEO Ian Watson did not return a phone call seeking comment.
“Our bonus offering is in line with the regulations,” Hundt said.
Mao Chakrya, director general of the TRC, said the regulator would hold an internal meeting on Monday to examine the state of the industry and the minimum prices, suggesting that the prakas was far from permanent.
Chakrya said the discussion would result in finding “what we are going to change to match the current situation for benefiting customers”.