Mobile Firms, Regulator Will Meet to Discuss Call Prices

The country’s nine mobile operators will meet Monday with the Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) to re-examine a 2009 law that sets minimum prices for calls, an official confirmed Thursday.

“We sent out invitations to [the] companies…. The meeting is to discuss the price and to try to set up a lower rate,” said Lay Marivo, deputy director of the TRC.

The current minimum prices are set at 4.5 cents per minute for calls made on the same network and 5.95 cents per minute for cross-network calls. On last Friday, the TRC ordered operators to abide by the law, and this week, two of the country’s largest firms—Smart and MobiTel—were at loggerheads over whether or not firms in the market should be made to abide by a minimum price.

“Smart will appeal to TRC to remove the minimum retail floor price and to re-instate the free market economy principle for the telecom sector in line with the economic cornerstones of the Kingdom of Cambodia as stipulated in the Constitution and the Investment Law,” Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, said in an email.

Smart, which is owned by the Malaysia-based Axiata Group Bhd, had been offering custo­mers a 500 percent top-up bonus prior to the TRC’s order.

Ian Watson, CEO of MobiTel, said his company only wants fair competition in the market.

“Our position is that the regulator ensures fair competition in the market to create and not destroy value,” he said.

On Monday, Smart and MobiTel posted online that they had ended their promotions—in line with the TRC decision—outraging customers who then took to Facebook to blame MobiTel for forcing the government’s decision.

Mr. Watson has denied the claims.

On Wednesday, Minister of Posts and Telecommunications So Khun said the decision last Friday was made after one of the country’s operators complained to the ministry, but he declined to name that operator.

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