Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Switching sims

Switching sims

Switching sims


SAVVY mobile phone customers continue to benefit from feverish competition among operators, and there are no signs of a slowdown meaning switching SIMs is still rampant.

“If we look back to before last year, when there were only a few mobile phone operators, when I needed a SIM card it cost more than US$10 and had to be filled with $5 to activate it,” Nguon Setha, a second-year student of English Literature at the University of Cambodia, recalled recently.

“Now, a SIM card is less than $1, or free of charge, and, more attractively, there is already credit on it to make calls.”

Now Nguon Setha has 20 SIM cards, but he only keeps one permanent number – his first.

“I still use the first one I had, because all my friends know it,” he said. “For the new cards, I just take the benefits from them, when the companies give them free or sell at quite cheap prices. And I use them to call out. After they run out of credit, I ditch them.”

This strategy has helped him reduce refill costs for the one phone he uses permanently.

“Before, I refilled $5 on my phone every month, but now it’s just once every three months,” he said.

The competitive incentives – free SIM cards, prizes, low tariffs and free minutes – have created other strategies for mobile phone users.

“I have bought around 15 SIM cards, but I use only two SIM cards that have good tariffs, good network coverage and which most of my friends are using,” said Sroeun Sreylis, a second-year business student at Norton University.

“Now, it’s quite cheap, the cost of a SIM cards and tariffs,” she said. “One minute used to cost more than $0.10, but now it’s cheaper, below $0.10, and sometimes with special promotions on in-network calls, and SMSs are free.”

She too said she uses SIM cards just long enough take advantage.

“Usually, for cross-network, the tariff is higher than for inside the network,” she said. “And some of my friends, they use another network, so I have to switch to their network when I call them.”

But do the promotions help the mobile phone operators?

Gary Foo, marketing manager at Hello, the fourth-ranked of nine companies, told the Post that competition has made it impossible to stand out, even if it means a loss of revenue.

“It’s obvious that it affects every operator’s [revenue], but we need to invest a little bit to get new customers in,” Foo said. “And the important thing is we have to maintain our existing customers with good offers and make customers loyal to our service.”

Hello has distributed more than 800,000 SIM cards so far, in a market of around five million mobile phone users, but Foo said he didn’t know how many users were active, although parent company Axiata reported in recent financial results it had 770,000 active users in the Kingdom by the end of last year.

“Normally for free or cheap promotional SIM cards, customers always want to try them,” he said. “But after that, they will consider and make comparisons about the service quality and tariff, so they will take whoever is to their satisfaction.”

Some customers do have many SIM cards, enjoying free or cheap prices, but they generally have one primary card, he said. “Our main focus is on the value to customers, and our service quality, to ensure smooth, non-interference connection calls.”

Promotions helped Beeline Cambodia, which entered the market in mid-2009, reach hundreds of thousands of subscribers. The company announced early this month it had exceeded 367,000 users, with revenue per user climbing.

Nhem Socheata, Beeline’s Cambodia spokesman, would not say how many SIM cards the company put out to reach that many users, but she said the firm had undertaken promotional campaigns with prizes, including a drawing for a new car.

Thomas Hundt, chief executive officer of Smart Mobile, also declined to put a number on the amount of SIM cards the company has distributed, but said it is gaining thousands of new subscribers each day.

“We are working on further enhancement and extension of our coverage, as well as additional products and services to be deployed in the course of 2010,” he told the Post.

“We are quite positive on our growth, and we plan to at least double the amount of users by the end of 2010,” he said, adding that new users were coming from the provinces and Phnom Penh alike.

“Most of [our users] are representatives of the young generation,” he said, “especially students, young professionals of the private and government sectors, but also small and big businesses as our corporate customers.”

A look at mobile phone tariffs in Cambodia

Winthin network
Across network

0.05USD per min
0.07USD per min

0.05USD (charge by second)
0.10USD (charge by second)

0.078USD (charge by second)
0.108USD (charge by second)

5 cents/min (15 seconds charging base)
7 cents/min (15 seconds charging base)

0.06USD per minute or 0.12USD for 15 minutes
0.06USD per minute (charge by minute)

0.07USD
0.07USD

0.05USD
0.07USD

0.05USD
0.07USD

4.2c to 8c
7.2c to 12c
*Metfone has 4 different types of services: Metforever, Meteco, Met traveler, and Met Zone

MOST VIEWED

  • Over $3M in traffic fines collected in two months

    Traffic police officers collected over $3 million in fines throughout the Kingdom during the past two months when officers strictly enforced the law in accordance with a May sub-decree, officials said. As incentives, law enforcement officers received between 200,000 and two million riel ($50 to $500) each. The figures

  • More than 10,000 workers suspended

    More than 10,000 workers at 18 factories in Svay Rieng province have been suspended because of Covid-19, said provincial deputy governor Ros Pharith. Home to 11 special economic zones, Pharith said Svay Rieng has not been spared as the pandemic takes a toll on the global economy. “There

  • Oz lauds Kingdom’s passage of money laundering laws

    In a press release published by the Australian embassy in Phnom Penh on Monday, the country applauded Cambodia’s stance on transnational crimes as well as its promulgation of an anti-money laundering law and a law on combating proliferation financing. The praise came after King

  • Lotus face masks designed to cover globe

    A French designer in Cambodia has produced ecological face masks from lotus fibre to supply local and international markets with an eye on preserving ancestral techniques and supporting Cambodian women in rural communities. During a trip to Asia, Awen Delaval, an eco-friendly fashion designer, was

  • Accused not treated equally, says CCHR

    The Cambodia Centre for Human Rights (CCHR) has urged the Court of Appeal to do more to ensure that an accused’s right to a fair trial is fully respected. In a bulletin released on Monday, the CCHR said it had monitored 273 cases at the

  • Planning ministry hands out cash to 420,000 poor families in Kingdom

    The Ministry of Planning has identified 20,000 more poor families in the country, bringing the total to over 580,000, while over 420,000 of them have received the government’s cash assistance. In the meantime, many social security cards from families not deemed to be poor have been revoked.

  • Investors’ $14.4M projects approved

    New investments from local and foreign sources continue to pour into Cambodia despite the Covid-19 pandemic remaining a lingering threat to regional and global economies. This comes as the Kingdom’s gross domestic product (GDP) is expected to contract between one and 2.9 per cent this

  • NagaWorld casinos set to reopen, schools to follow

    NAGACORP Ltd has requested that it be allowed to reopen its NagaWorld integrated resorts in Phnom Penh after the government recently approved casinos to operate again, provided they follow Covid-19 prevention measures set by the Ministry of Health. Mey Vann, the director-general of the Ministry

  • Rubber exports stretch 17%

    Cambodia exported 97,175 tonnes of natural rubber in the first five months of this year, surging 17 per cent compared to the same period last year as the Covid-19 pandemic stretches on, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries official Khuong Phalla told The Post on Thursday. Phalla,

  • ASEM supports Kingdom’s proposal to postpone meeting amid Covid

    The 13th Asia-Europe Meeting (ASEM13) scheduled to be held in Cambodia in November has been postponed until mid-2021 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, a Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation press statement released on Saturday said. The decision was made during a two-day meeting