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Two Telecom Companies Merge Amid Tough Market

  • Kong Sothanarith
  • VOA Khmer

A combo photo of file photos shows people using their cell phones. The merger, with 75 percent input from Smart Mobile and 25 percent from Star Cell, will join 850,000 subscribers.

A combo photo of file photos shows people using their cell phones. The merger, with 75 percent input from Smart Mobile and 25 percent from Star Cell, will join 850,000 subscribers.

Cambodia's two smallest telecom firms, Smart Mobile and Star Cell, merged their operations on Wednesday, in an effort to boost their competitiveness in a tight market.

Starting from Wednesday, subscribers to the company, which keeps the brand name Smart Mobile, will have the same prices for calls, the same bonuses and additional calling minute advantages, said Thomas Hundt, chief executive of Smart Mobile.

“Our goal is to become a leading company,” he said.

Cambodia has a total nine mobile operators for its 6.3 million users, led by Mobitel, which is owned by Kith Meng, director of the Royal Group and president of the Cambodian Chamber of Commerce. Mobitel is followed by Vietnamese-invested Vietell, under Metfone, and then by the Malaysian company Hello, Russian Beeline, Mfone, QB, Excell, Star Cell and Smart Mobile.

The merger, with 75 percent input from Smart Mobile and 25 percent from Star Cell, will join 850,000 subscribers. The new company hopes to cover the entire country by mid-2011.

“Once they have large capital, they can improve coverage and include new technologies,” Telecom Minister Sok Khun told VOA Khmer. Cambodia has too many companies, compared to other countries, he said, and mergers like this will improve service.

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