Ministry Plans New Interconnection Fees After Complaints

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications plans to issue a directive “soon” to in­crease the interconnection fee mobile phone companies pay one another for delivery of calls, a reversal of a regulation the ministry passed last year.

The ministry will raise the fee from $0.01 to $0.058 in response to complaints from companies they were losing money for delivering calls over a network, Ministry Undersecretary of State Koy Kimsea said.

Calls between different phone networks do not connect and phone companies blame each other for the difficulties. The ministry has issued letters to Mobi­Tel, Samart and Shinawatra or­dering them to stop “blocking” the calls made between their networks, Koy Kimsea said.

“I think the reason they are blocking traffic is that the [$0.01] fee won’t give them a profit,” he said.

When a user from one company makes a call to the user of a second, the first company is re­quired to pay an “interconnection fee” for the call.

Until last August, that fee was $0.07 between private companies. The ministry, which controls land lines, paid $0.05 to other companies to deliver calls.

Then the ministry announced it would stop paying fees, and reduced the fees paid between companies to $0.01.

MobiTel general manager David Spriggs, whose company has Cambodia’s largest market share, said he delivers a majority of the calls made by mobile phone users. But because the fee was so low, Spriggs said MobiTel lost money.

MobiTel warned last August it would not give priority to the systems required to switch calls between networks. Spriggs also said other phone companies had been turning off their switches for up to 15 minutes at a time, causing phone connections to fail.

Trairat Kaewkerd, general manager for Shinawatra (011), said the interconnect fees and jams were matters to be resolved between the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications and MobiTel.

Samart (016) general manager Somchai Lertwisetthecrackul said his company had not blocked any networks.

(Addition­al reporting by Brian Calvert)


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