Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Telecom regulator to steer clear of service providers’ price war

Telecom regulator to steer clear of service providers’ price war

A woman stands under a Cellcard umbrella next to a Smart promotional billboard in August in Phnom Penh.
A woman stands under a Cellcard umbrella next to a Smart promotional billboard in August in Phnom Penh. Pha Lina

Telecom regulator to steer clear of service providers’ price war

After a year of toothless warnings against below-cost mobile deals – which it previously called “suspicious” and “unfair” – the country’s telecommunications regulator yesterday capitulated, instead beseeching operators to steer clear of confusing marketing and maintain the quality of their services.

The Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) will no longer attempt to intervene in what was earlier dubbed an “epic price war” between mobile network operators, it said yesterday, explaining that users were benefitting from lower prices.

Im Vutha, TRC spokesman, said the situation was under control – even if the same deals persisted – and providing benefits to the public.

“If there is a sign that one operator is dominating the market and could potentially lead the market exclusively, we will intervene,” Vutha said, adding that currently all operators were able to run their businesses profitably.

“So far, the lower cost of internet services being provided by telecom operators has been a benefit for other sectors, like payment services, financial services, e-commerce and online shopping,” he said.

Early this year, competition between the sector’s bigger players – notably Smart Axiata and CamGSM’s Cellcard – saw the launch of promotional packages allowing subscribers to exchange $1 for more than $100 worth of on-network data, calls and messaging services. The TRC said at the time that the “unfair pricing” was preventing new entrants from being able to cover their costs.

Vutha said yesterday that the regulator’s priority had turned to increasing public awareness about the possible consequences of a price war. As operators compete on price, Vutha observed, service quality can become poorer.

TRC officials had been receiving complaints from the public about poor service, and confusing promotions that have caused subscribers to lose money on their accounts, he said.

Chhin Sreynet, a 27-year-old snack vendor in Phnom Penh, said she enjoyed the benefits of the promotional deals, and spent no more than $5 per month for all her calls and data.

“It’s much cheaper than several years ago,” she said. “Now, I don’t need to ask for WiFi passwords when hanging out at shops or restaurants, because the internet package I have is enough.”

Teng Sokha, a 55-year-old sugarcane juice vendor, however, said she does not use the internet and had lost money on her account after refilling it because it was connected to a promotion that he had not intended to subscribe to.

“Sometimes I refill my account for $5, but I only see $3 left,” he said.

Ian Watson, chief executive officer Cellcard operator CamGSM, said he welcomed the TRC alert, agreeing that it was important to take a holistic view of the market and assess plans and promos on whether they were being communicated transparently.

“I can assure you that at Cellcard we do not deduct any balance without the customer subscribing to a service,” he said, adding that if there is any question about subscriptions, users can check with the company’s contact centre to clarify.

MOST VIEWED

  • Would you like fries with that? US burger chain makes Phnom Penh debut

    California-based The Habit Burger Grill restaurant chain is all set to serve up a delicious array of charbroiled burgers and sides at its newest international location in the centre of Phnom Penh. The Habit is “renowned for its award-winning Charburgers grilled over an open flame,

  • Phnom Penh underpass opens to ease traffic

    Prime Minister Hun Sen has announced a temporary opening of the 488m underpass at the Chaom Chao roundabout in Phnom Penh’s Por Sen Chey district, which was recently completed to connect traffic from National Road 4 to Russian Federation Blvd. The move is to reduce

  • ‘No chance Cambodia booted out of ASEAN’

    A group of former and current Cambodian diplomats on Tuesday fired back at retired Singaporean diplomat Bihalari Kausikan after he proposed that ASEAN dismiss Cambodia and Laos from the bloc. In an open letter, the Cambodian diplomats said Kausikan’s remarks were made from a

  • Woman seeks answers after arrest of American partner

    Filipina Lalaine de Guzman, 48, is demanding answers for the detention of her American partner by Cambodian immigration officers after he was arrested at their home almost 90 days ago. She said without an arrest warrant or proffering any criminal charges, Stephen Sidney Greatsinger, 56, is being detained

  • Banteay Meanchey flood victims receive aid

    Prime Minister Hun Sen on Wednesday provided aid to more than 10,000 families affected by flooding in Banteay Meanchey province’s Mongkol Borei district and offered his condolences to the 18 victims who drowned in the province over the past week. He said flooding had occured in

  • PM urges caution as Polish man tests positive for Covid

    The Ministry of Health on Wednesday reported that a 47-year-old Polish man tested positive for Covid-19 after arriving in Cambodia on Monday. There are a total of six Covid-19 patients currently in the country, all of whom are being treated at the Khmer-Soviet Friendship Hospital