Boston, MA -- (ReleaseWire) -- 05/14/2014 -- Executive summary
Cambodia's crowded mobile sector sees major shake-out as operator numbers shrink
Despite its status as a least developed country and remaining one of the poorer countries in Southeast Asia, Cambodia's efforts to expand and upgrade its telecom infrastructure have been bearing fruit. In this country of around 15 million people, there was very little infrastructure remaining from before the tumultuous Khmer Rouge days. As a result, Cambodia largely by-passed rebuilding the fixed-line market and quickly launched into alternative technologies, jump-starting its telecommunications infrastructure with digital technology. Not surprisingly, mobile services completely overwhelmed the market, at least initially.
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In recent times there have been between eight and ten mobile operators vigorously competing with each other in a crowded market segment that continued to grow at a healthy annual rate, despite the obstacles. By mid-2013, there were over 18 million mobile subscribers (penetration 118%);
on the basis of reported statistics the market experienced a 'correction' in the first half of 2013, falling from around 20 million reported subscribers at end-2012. (It is noted that the available statistics are somewhat inconsistent, but, where appropriate, reasonable estimates have been made in the report.) The mobile market was continuing to grow following the correction, although probably at a more modest rate.
The mobile market had started to go through some form of rationalisation by 2011. By that stage there were nine licensed operators. The number of operators dropped to eight in that year when the merger of two of the operators was approved by the authorities. Then, after a great deal of activity on this front in 2012, two major changes took place: the closure of financially struggling Mfone finally occurred in early 2013, leaving the country with six major mobile networks;
and in March 2013, Hello Axiata merged with Smart/Latelz to form a refreshed Smart Mobile. This saw the number of major operators fall to five. Importantly, the new, combined Smart emerged as the second largest of mobile operators, with over five million customers, not far behind the market leader Viettel's Metfone.
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