Malaysian telecommunications company Axiata Group Berhad reported Wednesday that its Cambodian brand Smart has seen strong growth in the first nine months of the year, with revenue increasing by 36 percent compared with the same period last year.
In its third quarter financial report, Axiata said that since the merger of its Hello network and Latelz Co. Ltd.’s Smart Mobile in February, Smart has seen “significant growth”—especially in its prepaid segment—driven by strong growth in data revenue and a greater penetration of smartphones in the market. Smart Mobile accounts for 2 percent of the group’s total revenue of $1.4 billion for the third quarter, compared with 1 percent during the same period last year.
Thomas Hundt, CEO of Smart, said with more than 40 percent of new phones sold in Cambodia having Internet capabilities, the company is looking to strengthen its success by making 3G more readily available in Cambodia’s remote areas.
“We have invested heavily in a 3G technology rollout and intend to stay in that direction…. The demand for Internet is spreading out of major cities to provinces and villages where there is no alternative to accessing the Internet other than with a mobile phone.”
The Cambodian telecoms market has been fueled by fierce competition and aggressive marketing tactics between Smart and local conglomerate Royal Group’s major network MobiTel, which has about 4 million subscribers placing it behind Smart which has about 5.4 million.
However, MobiTel CEO Ian Watson said despite “Cambodia being one of the most competitive telecoms landscapes, there is still room for both companies [Smart and MobiTel] and competition is welcome.”
“We’ve seen a substantial growth in subscribers, our profit margins are strong and we continue to lead the market in terms of innovation and value,” he said.
“Our network quality is better and we’ve managed to maintain our market share despite price wars and fierce competition.”
MobiTel aims to hold its position at the forefront of mobile services by investing $70 million in research and development of 3G and other multimedia services, he added.