Upgrades Cause Problems for Mobitel Network

Customers of Mobitel, Cam­bodia’s largest mobile phone company, have found themselves cut off from their phone and text messaging services in the past few days as the company upgraded its system.

“We had some technical difficulties on Sunday and Monday,” David Spriggs, Mobitel’s general manager, said Tuesday. The company is undertaking a “major upgrade of [its] cellcard billing system” that has disrupted service, he said.

The company is preparing to launch new services within the next month, Spriggs said, adding it was too early to disclose what those services are.

The disruption in Mobitel’s system irked subscribers such as Prom Sotheary, 23, who has been unable to make calls to friends and family during the Pchum Ben holiday. She said she wants to switch services to Mobitel’s rival Camshin.

“During the last few days…I could not even send [text] messages,” Prom Sotheary said. “I was using Mobitel’s SIM card because I liked it, but now I want to use Camshin’s SIM card.”

Another Mobitel subscriber, Bun Chakrya, 23, also expressed frustration with the company. “If the problem stays like this, I will change the system,” she said. “I pressed the buttons 20 or 30 times, but I still could not make calls this weekend.”

However, customers who switch to other companies will be required to pay more for cross-system calls to Mobitel’s 012 numbers, which occupy 65 percent of Cambodia’s mobile phone market.

On Tuesday, Spriggs said Mobitel’s phone services were mostly back to normal and that customers who tried to add money to their accounts over the past few days soon will see that money credited.

In addition to the disruptions from the upgrades, Mobitel also saw a spike in phone traffic due to rumors that the company was allowing free phone calls, as well as bogus text messages that promised phone credits in celebration of the company’s “fifth anniversary,” Spriggs said.

Those rumors and messages are false, he said, adding the company has been running for eight years. “It is not coming from us,” he said.

(Additional reporting by Wency Leung)


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