Kazakhstan-based Applifone Co Ltd is leasing technology from Swedish telecommunications giant Ericsson to create Star-Cell, the new kid on Cambodia’s block of mobile service providers.
Officially launched Wednesday, the company is expected to invest up to $150 million by 2017, said Chief Marketing Officer Nataliya Skopina at a press conference last week.
Star-Cell said it would provide customers with services such as call waiting, call forwarding, conference calling, SMS, voice mail and fax transmission. The company is banking on prospering from a growing market.
“Cambodia has more and more middle class [people],” Star-Cell COO Adam Cabot said.
“We now have a population of 15 million…and people will need phone services,” he added.
Indeed, Cambodia is home to 1.17 million mobile phone users compared to only around 30,000 landline users, according to So Khun, minister of posts and telecommunications.
Skopina said Star-Cell has already invested $25 million in the venture, a figure expected to reach $40 million by next year and $150 million within the next 10 years.
Star-Cell’s 098 service is the fourth mobile phone provider to come into Cambodia’s burgeoning market after MobiTel (012), CamShin (011) and Hello GSM (016).
Star-Cell expects to begin in Phnom Penh and expand into Sihanoukville, Battambang and other large towns such as Siem Reap and Serei Saophoan in Banteay Meanchey province within a year.
So Khun welcomed the increase in the number of players in Cambodia’s growing mobile services industry, saying that stronger competition would lead to lower prices and better service for consumers.
“We are a member of the WTO [World Trade Organization], we can’t stop any new businesses,” he added.
David Spriggs, general manager for MobiTel, said MobiTel has no qualms over the new market entrant. “We are already using the latest technology,” he said. “We are number one.”