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Ministry cancels telco limits

Ministry cancels telco limits

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An often flouted and publicly unpopular restriction forbidding Cambodia’s telecoms from offering lucrative mobile phone promotions was scrapped on Sunday, just two weeks after it was introduced.

In a letter from the Ministery of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC), signed by Minister So Khun, it announced a halt to the implementation of the decision made between the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) and all phone operators on April 22, when eight out of nine operators agreed to stop the promotions that violate a 2009 interministerial prakas.

The statement also said the “TRC has to consult with all operators in accordance with law and existing regulations to examine policies, legal letters and relevant regulations, which are not suitable for the current situation.”

Moa Chakrya, director of the TRC, said fmost of the operators agreed on what the prakas said, but Sunday’s announcement by the MPTC did not provide any restrictions on the use of promotions on those mobile operators.

“We will follow the Ministry’s new announcement, but we don’t know when yet a new meeting with the operators will be scheduled.”  

When asked whether the Ministry allowed mobile operators to provide promotions and advertisements to customers again, Moa Chakrya said the MPTC had suspended the restriction.

Minimum tariffs for within- and cross-network calls have also caused disputes among the operators and the TRC. Moa Chakrya yesterday did not say whether or not the tariffs should be cheaper or more expensive than currently required in the prakas.

“[W]hat we are doing is for people. To be cheaper is [what the government wants].”

Minister Khun could not be reached for comment yesterday.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of telecom operator Smart, said the company was aware of the Ministry’s letter and the announcement made by the MPTC on Sunday.

“Smart does explicitly welcome this decision by MPTC and likes to express its gratitude to MPTC for having made this decision and announcement,” he wrote in an email.

When asked if the Ministry’s announcement means that there is a chance for the operators to use their previous promotions again, he said, “Yes, this is our understanding.”

Neither market leader Cellcard nor smaller operator Beeline could be reached for comment and did not reply to emails yesterday.

Both Smart and Cellcard have informed customers about tariffs and promotion changes on their websites.

“Due to Inter-Ministerial Prakas 232 by Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of Cambodia and Ministry of Economy and Finance, Smart and all other mobile operators are currently not allowed to provide any call bonuses and/or within network calling rates below 4.5 cents per minute,” Smart’s website said.

Cellcard announced on their website that “current offers related to the Cellcard New SIM 100 per cent bonus, XG plans and Cellcard Plus plans have been suspended temporarily and are unavailable until further notice.

These offers are now being reviewed to ensure that offers meet the requirements of the Prakas.”

Song Leng, director of secretariat of the TRC, yesterday also cancelled a meeting that was aimed at discussing the minimum cost of mobile phones, fixed phones, and interconnection fees to call another network. The letter said that officials will inform the operators about the date for a meeting later.

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