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Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Teliasonera blames low tariffs

Teliasonera blames low tariffs

091105_09
Workers at a Star-Cell store use their mobile phones last week in Phnom Penh.

Star-Cell owner cites Vietnamese firm and intense competition for 56 percent slide in subscribers during April-to-June quarter

THE parent company of Cambodian mobile phone operator Star-Cell on Wednesday attributed a 56 percent second-quarter drop in subscribers to stepped up competition as a result of the “next-to-zero pricing” policy of a new entrant from Vietnam.

Stockholm-based Teliasonera AB, which owns the company through its local subsidiary Applifone, highlighted the fall in total users from 150,000 in the first quarter to just 66,000 in the second in its third-quarter financial results published last week.

The company had 141,000 subscribers at the end of the third quarter, the company’s financial results showed.

Jen Borja Bornas, Applifone’s media manager in Cambodia, declined to comment Thursday on revenues and user numbers, but a Stockholm-based spokesperson said by email Wednesday that the blip was temporary.

“The main reason for the drop in Q2 was the entering of new players in the market, [especially] a Vietnamese player that had a next-to-zero pricing initially that created a temporary churn for us,” Ola Kallemur said. “Apparently most of the customers returned to us after a period.”

Kallemur did not mention Viettel by name, but the Vietnamese military owned firm launched its Metfone brand in February 2009 with a campaign of free SIM-card giveaways to build market share.

Viettel Managing Director Nguyen Duy Tho told the Post last month that the promotion was discontinued in May “due to its ineffectiveness”.

Kallemur said the firm had not yet made a “real effort” to gain market share in Cambodia, instead focusing on improving network quality.

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