Russian telecoms group Vimpelcom has announced the commercial launch of mobile services in Cambodia under the Beeline banner, via its subsidiary Sotelco. ‘The commercial launch in Cambodia is the first launch by a Russian mobile operator under its own brand outside of Russia and the CIS. The Cambodian launch is an important stage in Vimpelcom’s international development,’ said Vladimir Riabokon, executive vice president of Vimpelcom. Beeline services will initially be available in the country’s eleven largest provinces to approximately 37% of the population. By the end of 2009 the company plans to expand its footprint to more than two thirds of the country’s inhabitants.
According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the Russian firm acquired a 90% in stake Sotelco, which claims to be the only company in Cambodia to hold a wireless licence encompassing both the 900MHz and 1800MHz bands, for USD28 million in July 2008. The remaining 10% remains with Sotelco’s former parent, local company Atlas Trade, although Vimpelcom has a call option to acquire the entire outstanding stake. In December 2008 the cellco announced that it had inked a deal with Huawei for the deployment of a nationwide GSM network over the next five years. The company says it will invest USD200 million over the next three or four years, by which time it hopes to achieve around two million subscribers, or roughly 20% market share.