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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Telcos warned over prices

Telcos warned over prices

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Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, So Khun, speaks during a press conference in Phnom Penh yesterday.

If companies charge below the minimum pricing
prakas, the ministry will discipline them

Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun warned telecommunications companies yesterday to respect government-imposed minimum pricing on calls or face action – including having their licences revoked.

“If companies charge below the minimum pricing prakas, the ministry will discipline them,” he said, according to a translation.

The Ministry imposed a prakas in late 2009 that set a pricing floor for calls within and between networks, though industry insiders say several of the Kingdom’s eight mobile operators routinely flout the directive.

Although several private-sector officials declined to discuss the situation yesterday, one industry insider has told The Post that many operators advertise a prakas-compliant tariff, but then send SMS messages to subscribers to “migrate them to a better tariff plan” which was non-compliant.

Under the terms of the prakas, certain temporary promotional pricing schemes are allowed, provided prior MPTC approval is granted. Otherwise, on-network calls are restricted to $0.045 per minute, while off-net calls are afforded a slightly higher rate.

Non-complaint mobile phone operators could even risk having their licences revoked if they do not adhere to the pricing rules, said So Khun, at a press conference held at the ministry to discuss an ASEAN Information and Communication Technology Masterplan

The minimum pricing kept some users from clogging the phone companies’ network by making long calls facilitated by low tariffs, he said.

So Khun added that further mergers in the mobile phone sector would prove beneficial to the sector.

Smart Mobile and Star-Cell merged this month to create what they claim is the Kingdom’s third largest provider.

Still, the Cambodian telecoms sector is generally considered to be overcrowded, with eight companies operating in a market than many say should hold at most four or five operators.

“I would be very happy if other mergers happen this year,” said So Khun, adding that merged companies would have an easier time turning a profit.

The minister also claimed that mobile penetration had reached more than 60 percent of the Cambodian population, with 9.8 million subscribers in the Kingdom.

A copy of the November’s active SIM card numbers revealed Metfone had become the largest mobile phone company with 2.84 million users, more than Mobitel’s 2.73 million.

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