Regulator Warns Smart Over Generous Top-Ups

The Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia (TRC) has issued mobile phone operator Smart a third warning over its generous top-up bonuses for customers, saying the firm is creating unfair competition among the country’s eight other operators.

“Although Telecommunication Regulator of Cambodia has issued two times the letters to Latelz. Co. Ltd. on the measure of this advertisement…Latelz. Co. Ltd. in these last few days still keeps such advertisement,” states a copy of the warning letter issued last Friday. Latelz Co. Ltd. operates in Cambodia as Smart.

The letter, signed by Moa Chakrya, president of the regulator, goes on to state that Smart must “immediately” stop advertisements for its bonus schemes by April 13. The first letter was issued on March 11 and the second on March 20.

Though the regulator states that mobile operators cannot advertise bonuses above 50 percent of what a customer pays for a mobile phone top-up, Smart has advertised a 500 percent top-up bonus—300 percent for calls and SMS, and 200 percent for Internet—throughout the country and online.

“Now is the last time that we will send a letter to Smart to stop their promotion because it affects another mobile operator. It is not fair to another company. If they don’t stop, we will take legal action,” Mr. Chakrya said, adding that Smart had called and said it would halt the advertisements.

Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, declined to comment on the warnings, but said Smart was trying to offer the best service for its customers.

“It is Smart’s aim of offering the most affordable calling rates for the good people of Cambodia and the economical development—and that should be the mission of all market participants and stakeholders,” he said.

In February, operator Smart Mobile merged with operator Hello to become Smart, propelling the company to the No. 2 two spot in Cambodia’s telecom market in terms of subscribers.

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