Cambodians Using Thai SIM Cards Facing End of the Line

The Ministry of Post and Tele­communications is launching a crackdown on Cambodians who use Thai mobile phone providers to call Thailand from Cambodia, saving them the cost of a long-distance call, officials said.

Mobile phone users, not limited to the border areas, are using phones with SIM cards from Thai companies, whose coverage areas extend as far as 300 km in­side Cambodia, said Cheim Sang­va, deputy director of the inspection department at the ministry.

“We lost a lot of income from this illegal phone use,” Cheim Sangva said. “The money goes into Thailand, not the Cambodian government.”

The ministry collects 90 percent of its income for the national budget from mobile phone use, said Touch Heng, director general of the Ministry of Post and Tele­com­munications. “We have to increase income collection for the government in 2005 because people have used [mobile phones] more and more in Cambodia,” he said.

Thai citizens buy SIM cards for customers who want to use them in Cambodia, Cheim Sangva said. “They charge $10 a month [service fee] and collect 5 percent of the income generated from [mobile] phone use,” he added.

MobiTel said a phone call from Phnom Penh to Thai­land costs $1.10 per minute on week­days and $0.93 per min­ute on weekends.

The ministry will ask Thai officials for their cooperation in stopping service for illegal mobile phones by providing addresses and phone numbers, Cheim Sangva said.

“We already know them and their house and telephone number in those provinces,” he said. “The fish are in the cage, but we just need time to crack down on them.”


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