Mobile Bonuses Axed After Firm Complaint

Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun said Wednesday that the government’s decision last week to order all mobile phone firms to stop offering generous top-up bonuses came after one of the market’s competitors complained to the ministry.

Since the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia made the order, Smart, which is owned by Axiata Group Bhd, and MobiTel, which is owned by the Cambo­dian conglomerate Royal Group, have publicly voiced their differences in opinion over top-up bo­nuses. Smart says firms in the market should be left to offer what­ever deals they please, while MobiTel says the promotions in the market are unfair.

Since mid-February, Smart has offered a 500 percent top-up bonus, while MobiTel has been offering a 100 percent top-up bonus since December.

“When the [promotional] advertising came out, some companies were not happy. Then a company reported to the ministry that the other company wasn’t following the ministry’s regulations,” Mr. Khun said Wednesday, declining to name which company had complained to the government.

Ian Watson, CEO of MobiTel, denied complaining to the ministry.

“No, not us. We have not entered any complaint to any government body or authority,” said Mr. Watson.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, also denied complaining. “We have not complained to anyone about the competitors’ activities. We are in favor of a free market,” he said.

Mr. Khun said that a meeting among the country’s nine operators and the TRC is scheduled next week to discuss Fri­day’s decision, but added that all firms must follow the law.

“Law needs to be implemented. If they don’t want to follow the law of the government, how can they work with the government? So, they can leave. You can’t just compete to live alone and let others die. Even if it’s a free market, you need to follow the rule of law,” he said.

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