MPTC Reduces Phone Fees

The Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications has decided to slash interconnection fees between phone companies, which will be good news for phone users who don’t use Cambodia’s leading phone company, MobiTel, obser­vers said Wednesday.

The new regulations, which will be implemented starting Sept 1, will lower fees phone companies are able to charge for delivering calls from $0.07 to $0.01 per mi­nute, said Koy Kim Sea, ministry undersecretary of state in charge of regulations. The new re­gula­tions also state that calls made to or from the ministry will be free, he said.

Because MobiTel was making the most money by delivering more than half of all phone calls made within Cambodia, they stand to lose, said one telecommunications observer who asked not to be named.

MobiTel executives could not be reached for comment Wed­nes­day, but general manager David Spriggs has called the new proposal “unreasonable” and “disastrous for the industry.”

MobiTel will “probably halt” a $20 million investment “in light of these proposals,” Spriggs wrote in a letter to Telecommunications Minister So Khun.

The decision to change the regulations comes less than two months after the ministry stopped payments to phone companies for delivering calls made by users of ministry-owned land lines.

Customers of other phone companies like Samart—Mobi­Tel’s closest competitor—would likely benefit from the new regulation.

“It should be a benefit to the public,” Samart CEO Somchai Lert­­wiset-Theerakul said, who added Samart “should” be able to lower prices.

Interconnect fees are paid by com­panies whose customers place calls to customers of a different company.

Even if the new cuts help some phone companies cut their rates, the changes may be harmful to the industry. Companies now wor­ry that government regulations could change at any time, said the telecommunications observer.

“Who’s going to invest now?” the ob­server asked. “You’d be mad to invest now.”


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