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Sotelco pushed to increase tariffs

1 Sep 2009

The Cambodian mobile market’s latest entrant, Sotelco, has been warned by the government to increase its tariffs following a dispute with market leader Mobitel, writes the Phnom Penh Post citing a letter from the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications (MPTC) obtained by the newspaper. Dated 17 August, the letter states that Sotelco, which is 90%-owned by Russian telecoms company Vimpelcom and operates under the Beeline banner, agreed to raise tariffs from USD0.05 per minute to USD0.06 per minute. According to the report, Mobitel was considering shutting down Beeline’s access to its infrastructure on the basis that the cellco was selling its mobile services below cost price. The letter was sent to Sotelco, Mobitel and the country’s seven other mobile operators in an apparent warning to the sector over increasing competition that has seen companies offer services for free or below-cost price; it is reportedly the first time the government has directly intervened in the sector’s pricing policies.

In a separate story, Vietnamese military-owned operator Metfone has signed a cooperation agreement with the VN bank to link telecoms and banking operations in Phnom Penh. Under the terms of the deal, Metfone will provide telecoms infrastructure to the Bank for Investment and Development of Cambodia (BIDC) to help expand the bank’s presence in Cambodia by covering leased line internet services to connect its branches. In return, the BIDC will offer the company a USD40 million credit line to expand GSM mobile phone networks and a help fund a 3G upgrade.

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