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 21 Jan 2009

Cambodia: Mobile phone operators defy downturn

Despite the economic downturn and concerns over corporate investment, Cambodian mobile phone operators say their expansion plans are on schedule for 2009 as the industry continues to grow, national media reported Tuesday.

"Our expansion plans are on track," Adam Cabot, CEO of Star-Cell, was quoted by the Phnom Penh Post as saying.

The company has announced it was going to expand services to all of Cambodia's provinces for its 100,000 subscribers.

"Yes, (the crisis) will have an effect, but it is hard to say how much. We are still maintaining our position and doing well," he said.

Cambodia's mobile market has grown rapidly in the past five years, and companies are scrambling to gain a foothold as phones and the internet gain popularity.

Domestic mobile-phone usage surged 49 percent in 2007 but the national penetration rate remains a low 17 percent.

In contrast, neighboring Vietnam saw 75 percent growth with a 33 percent penetration rate in the same year, according to Budde Comm, an independent telecoms analyst.

Cambodia's low mobile penetration rate is a draw for many companies such as Vietnam-based mobile operator Viettel, which is launching a major drive to tap Cambodia's rural market and bring schools online.




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