Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Smart gains on Metfone

Smart gains on Metfone

An employee sorts out mobile phone SIM cards last year at a shop in central Phnom Penh.
An employee sorts out mobile phone SIM cards last year at a shop in central Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Smart gains on Metfone

Cambodian mobile operator Smart Axiata is closing in on market leader Metfone, with the latest subscriber figures showing the gap between the two telecom giants narrowing, while Royal Group-owned Cellcard remains a distant third, according to data obtained by the Post yesterday.

Im Vutha, spokesman of the Telecommunications Regulator of Cambodia (TRC), said based on reports submitted by the country’s mobile operators, Cambodia had 19.1 million active subscribers as of the end of June. The figures show Vietnamese-owned Metfone on top with 8.9 million subscribers, while Smart claimed 7.4 million subscribers and Cellcard reported 2.4 million. Another 400,000 subscribers are split between three other mobile operators, namely qb, Seatel and Xinwei.

Vutha said while Metfone, which once boasted having over 10 million subscribers, still had the edge in traditional voice calls, Smart had blazed ahead in the more lucrative data segment, having become the Kingdom’s most popular operator for smartphone users.

“Based on the figures, [Metfone] was number one in terms of voice calls, however, Smart has got the greatest number of data users,” he said.

Chari Thandalam Veeravalli Thirumala, group chief financial officer of Malaysia-based Axiata, the parent company of Smart Axiata, said last week that the company’s own research shows Smart had more than 3 million data subscribers in 2015, compared to Metfone’s estimated 1.6 million and Cellcard’s 600,000.

He said Smart’s 22 percent revenue growth over the past year was “largely driven by data revenue”, as the region’s telecom companies increasingly offer voice calls and SMS for free or bundled into data packages amid falling usage.

According to Thirumala, Smart now accounts for 57 percent of mobile data by revenue in Cambodia, nearly double that of Metfone and about five times that of Cellcard.

The total number of mobile subscribers in Cambodia fell by about 2 million last year as consumers with multiple SIM cards dropped their lesser-used accounts, and recent operator consolidations – including Metfone’s acquisition of Beeline last year – resulted in thousands of cancelled lines.

Chhim Sang Heng, owner of Hak Se Phone shop in Phnom Penh, said Smart accounts for the majority of his shop’s SIM card sales, while he rarely sells new Metfone lines anymore.

“Smart is now popular in the market for both voice and data use, and most of my customers use Smart SIMs because the company has a lot of promotions,” he said. “Cellcard is popular with businessmen, who use their line to communicate with work.”

MOST VIEWED

  • US think tank warns of China's 'ulterior motives'

    A US think tank on Tuesday warned that spreading Chinese investment in the Indo-Pacific follows a pattern of leveraging geopolitical influence at the expense of the nations receiving investment, including Cambodia. The report looks at a sample of 15 Chinese port development projects, noting that the

  • More than three tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia seized in Mozambique

    A total of 3.5 tonnes of ivory reportedly bound for Cambodia was seized by authorities in Mozambique late last week, according to the NGO Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES' information was based on a report from the

  • Defence Ministry denies weapons in smuggling case came from Cambodia

    After a Thai national was arrested last week for allegedly smuggling guns from Cambodia to Thailand, Cambodia's Defence Ministry has claimed the weapons seized during the arrest are not used in Cambodia, despite the fact that both types of rifle seized are commonly found in

  • Shipwreck found off coast of Koh Kong

    Royal Cambodian Navy researchers are working to identify a decades-old shipwreck found earlier this month off the coast of Koh Kong province. Divers found the 70-metre-long wreck on April 4 about a mile from Koh Chhlam island, according to Navy officials. Deputy Navy Commander Tea Sokha,