Smart Mobile becomes latest firm to fall into file after govt edict.
MOBILE-phone provider Smart Mobile has modified a pricing plan involving free minutes in response to a government directive outlawing the practice from Tuesday.
According to its Web site, customers on the company’s WOW prepaid calling plan must now pay US$0.02 every 15 seconds for calls within and across networks, or $0.08 per minute.
Previously, customers on the tariff received up to 30 minutes of free calls daily when they topped up with $5 or more of credit.
Smart Mobile Chief Executive Officer Thomas Hundt declined to comment on the operator’s pricing plans earlier in the week and could not be reached Wednesday.
The change comes as a prakas, or ministerial edict, signed by Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun and Minister of Economy and Finance Keat Chhon on December 7 setting minimum tariffs in the sector kicks in.
Under the prakas, operators cannot offer calls within their networks for less than $0.045 per minute, not including taxes. It also makes binding a long-standing agreement setting the cost for across-network calls at $0.0595 per minute.
Special call promotions of up to one month may be permitted. During promotions, within-network calls can drop to 50 percent of the minimum, but they require prior approval.
Telecommunications Ministry Director General Mao Chakrya said his staff is monitoring compliance, and that action will be taken, possibly including suspension or termination of operating licences, against those failing to comply.
“It is very important that operators comply,” he said.
Following Smart Mobile’s price changes, only qb and Beeline appear to have not yet brought tariffs into line with the governmental edict.
Beeline has removed from its Web site references to its Super Zero tariff, in which users pay $0.06 for the first minute and nothing for the next 14 minutes.
The Moscow-based firm’s automated call centre is still offering the tariff, but a call centre operator said this week it would end by 2010.
A company representative declined to comment Wednesday. Beeline General Director Gael Campan and Commercial Director Benoit Janin were both unavailable for comment, the representative said.
CADCOMMS Chief Operating Officer Farouq Abu Saleh and Director Ben Khudair have not commented so far this week on qb’s pricing plans.