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SIM sales stagnate as internet use soars

A woman organises SIM cards at a mobile phone shop in central Phnom Penh late last year.
A woman organises SIM cards at a mobile phone shop in central Phnom Penh late last year. Pha Lina

SIM sales stagnate as internet use soars

Mobile SIM card sales slowed to a crawl in 2015 while the number of new subscribers using mobile internet services leaped by 30 per cent, according to a Ministry of Telecommunications factsheet.

The report, released late last week, shows that the number of SIM card subscribers at the end of 2015 reached 20.9 million, up just 2 per cent compared to 2014. However, mobile internet usage showed a rapid increase, with 6.3 million subscribers using their mobile phones to access online content last year – nearly a third more than a year earlier.

Im Vutha, director of the regulation and dispute unit at the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia, said while SIM card ownership was nearing its saturation point, there was still room to grow in mobile internet services as millions of Cambodians upgrade to smartphones.

“SIM card subscriber growth will not be higher than the current rate,” he said. “It has reached maximum level as the number of Cambodian people is just around 15 million.”

The report shows that of the 6.4 million internet subscribers in the Kingdom, close to 99 per cent, some 6.3 million, used mobile internet services to access the web, whereas only 64,000 used fixed-line internet devices.

“Mobile internet dominates more than 98 per cent of internet subscribers and the trend will continue to growth in the future based on the tendency of people towards increased smartphone usage,” Vutha said.

He added that Cambodians’ voracious appetite for social media usage coupled with the affordable cost of mobile data leave a lot of room for growth in the sector.

According to the factsheet, Cambodia has nine mobile internet providers compared to 29 wired internet service providers. After a crackdown on more than 30 inactive internet and voice-over-internet protocol (VoIP) firms in November last year, the Kingdom now has 29 internet and 26 VoIP service providers.

Regarding the Kingdom’s fibre optic network, three players – Telecom Cambodia, Viettel (Cambodia) and Cambodia Fiber Optic Cable Network – have laid more than 26,000 kilometres of cable, but not all of it is currently in use, Vutha added.

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