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qb: Building with innovation

For qb, the focus is on quality services at fair prices that meet the needs of its market

According to CEO Alan Sinfield, the mobile operator qb provides quality data services, offering 3.75G data solutions to major urban centres in Cambodia and covering 80 per cent of Cambodia’s population for voice services.

“Right priced with compelling offers providing great value underpins the qb approach to the market,” Sinfield says.

Nevertheless, these are not easy times for Cambodia’s smaller mobile operators such as qb, the brand name of Gulf-owned (Cambodia) Advance Communications. Mergers have seen a consolidation of the market into three large competitors that have been actively engaged in price wars.

“Yes, the price war has made operating in the Cambodian market very difficult, but we endeavour to not compete on such a narrow platform,” says Sinfield. “Rather, we’re continuing to focus on quality services at fair prices that meet what our target segment of the market wants.”

By that he is referring to smartphone users and data-enabled devices that require secondary SIM cards, such as tablets and iPads.

But Sinfield adds that qb is being not complacent about competition.

“We’re continually looking to build on what we have for the benefit of our existing and new customers as this remains a very challenging market, especially due to past lack of regulation and no telecom laws governing competitive practices.”

Granted its telecom-munications licence in 2006 and launched in March 2008, qb today has over 150 employees and a growing customer base.

Says Chief Marketing Officer Michael Fitzpatrick: “We are strategically positioning ourselves, looking to remodel the market and not simply replicate what others have attempted.”

According to Fitzpatrick, this is clear in what he describes as “the distinctly vibrant look and feel of our recent advertising campaigns in 2013 and 2014 (which have been recognised for excellence by the international advertising community on Ads of the World).

“In terms of branding, we’re not focused on simply owning a colour or set of colours like the other companies. Rather, we’re upping the ante with attention to textures and depth in our visual marketing,” he says.

But the visuals are just the start.

“We’re a forward-looking brand and focused on overall user experience across our many platforms, which includes both traditional and digital platforms,” Fitzpatrick says. “On Facebook, which is arguably the most important medium in Cambodia these days, our fan community size and engagement relative to our network size is far better than our larger competitors despite all the resources at their disposal.”

As a part of its strategy, qb is also looking to continue to distinguish itself in the mobile market by offering a range of ongoing and innovative products and services tailored to the needs of its customers.

“A recent product we introduced this year, qb’s ‘Couples SIM’, allows two qb SIM holders to speak all they want for only 15 cents per day,” Fitzpatrick says. “Also, our recently revamped international calling package, ‘qb Together’, currently offers probably the lowest international calling rates in the country – 3.5 cents per minute, compared to 4 cents, which our competitors tout for their international calling offers.”

According to Fitzpatrick, for the rest of this year, qb will be focusing on core data services including VoIP, in addition to preparing for network and systems upgrades.

Sinfield says that looking forward, qb “will continue with a segment-focused strategy, competing on quality rather than just simply price like other Cambodian operators”.

He adds: “Price alone as a platform for competition is unsustainable and does not allow for reasonable returns from your investment and, more importantly, detracts from significant re-investment in network and other technologies for the benefit of the customers.”

Sinfield is referring to the price wars that have roiled the Cambodian telecommunications market and invoked the ire of the government, which has reportedly lost significant revenues as a result.

“We welcome the recent appointment of the Telecom Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) as a body, which we hope will deliver a far more stable and regulated environment and one that will allow for a more level (and fair competitive) playing field addressing the ‘predatory’ behaviour of some mobile operators”, Sinfield says.

Sinfield, however, remains positive about the future of the telecoms sector in Cambodia relaying that there will be far more transparency and proper regulation moving forward.

“From a customer standpoint, data and access to the internet are key, and mobile broadband is a critical element in providing such services to the Cambodian people. Increasingly we are seeing more and more activity in terms of new subscriptions for our highly competitive data offers,” he says.



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