Tri Cellular Communication Cambodia Co, has announced it will cease operations at the end of this month after six years of service, the first dropout of five mobile phone companies competing in Cambodia.
TriCelcam, a joint venture of Malaysian Technology Research Industry Berhad and the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications, sent a letter recently to its customers notifying them of the termination of the prefix-017 network and offering to switch them to Samart’s new digital network.
“Due to financial difficulties at the Malaysian company, we have not been able to upgrade our system to a digital one, and we have not done Y2K compliance,” a senior official of the company, who asked not to be named, said Sunday. “We regret we have to bid farewell to Cambodia, but we don’t have any other choice.”
The firm, which has invested about $10 million in its network, had nearly 6,000 customers at its peak, but only 1,000 remain, according to the company.
In order to “pay back to the valued customers,” TriCelcam and Samart agreed that the TriCelcam customers who paid off their outstanding balance by this weekend would be provided a new digital phone and card for Samart’s 016 network free of charge.
It remains unclear, though, when the company’s assets will be transferred to the Telecommunications Ministry and what will be the ministry’s plan for the assets.
“We have to solve the financial issues before winding up the company,” the company’s senior official said Sunday.
Government officials have said TriCelcam owes at least $2.3 million in debts to the ministry and $2 million to its Malaysian partner.
Long Van Han, the ministry’s undersecretary of state, said a committee will meet this week to discuss the financial issues and the future plan for the network.
“We have not decided what we are going to do with the 017 network,” Long Van Han said. “The Malaysian company is looking for a partner for the ministry to take over the network, but so far it’s not successful.”
The company official said none of the private investors would become a partner of 017 network unless the ministry decides to upgrade the system to digital.
MobiTel first introduced a digital network in Cambodia two years ago and Shinawatra upgraded its system to digital last year. Samart recently joined the digital phone service market. CamTel now will be the only company that has not improved its network from analog to digital.