The Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) wants the dispute between mobile operators qb and Smart to be resolved outside of court and has informed the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications of its intention to facilitate negotiations between the two, a TRC official said Tuesday.
“We do not want to solve this in the courts,” said Auk Dorany, second member of the TRC.
“We want to try to solve this problem with the regulator. We have a plan to negotiate between qb and Smart,” he said.
Mr. Dorany said TRC sent a letter Tuesday to the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications informing it of the regulator’s plan to resolve the dispute out of court.
“The letter to the ministry informs the minister that we will invite both companies to talk,” he said. “It is signed by the chairman of the TRC today and sent today.”
One of the country’s smallest mobile operators, qb, has accused Smart, the country’s second-largest in terms of subscribers, of damaging its reputation and financial interests after the two firms terminated a long-standing agreement that allowed qb customers to “roam” on Smart’s network.
Before the termination agreement was carried out, qb began receiving calls from customers who told the company that Smart was contacting them to switch to Smart’s network.
Mr. Dorany said Smart sent the TRC a letter dated May 29, and signed by its CEO, that said it was willing to join negotiations.
“Smart sent a letter to the TRC and said they are willing to join negotiations,” Mr. Dorany said. “We believe that both companies will be able to solve the problem.”
In mid-May, after qb filed a complaint against Smart with the TRC, the regulator sent a letter to Smart informing the operator that it could face legal action and requested that the issue be resolved “immediately.”
Alan Sinfield, CEO of qb, said Tuesday that the company is willing to negotiate if Smart is willing to pay for damages.
“If the regulator has taken the initiative and if Smart is willing to make restitution in terms of financial damages, then we are willing to discuss that, but if not, then we will seek damages through the court,” he said.
“Time is of the essence because we are pursuing civil action through the courts,” he added.
Smart CEO Thomas Hundt did not respond to a request for comment.
Smart is part of the Malaysia-based Axiata Group Berhad, while qb is the brand name of Saudi-owned Cambodia Advance Communication Ltd.