Phnom Penh is become known as city of sims, you can buy sim cards on the street from 1,500rel (40 cent USD) up to $USD10 and the special number you can purchase from companies or retailers and the price range up from $USD20 to $USD10,000 depend on which provider you choose, sometime you even get free sim from street advertiser. Millions of card are sold every year and Cambodia’s population is somewhere around 14 millions. In average per person at least have 2 to 5 sim cards; the question is why do Cambodian buy too many sim cards?
Each mobile service providers offer a good deal come with internet package with affordable price, some providers selling their sim card for $USD2 and offer free $5 to 10$ credit, some offer free hours talk within their network, and double top up. With these amazing offer how do you like to switch sims around? I find myself stuck with 9 sim cards and 3 cell phones, even my parents couldn’t recognize my number anymore, I don’t even know that I have too many sims. Surprisingly even kids having few sims and few cell phone, I just notice those kids study at English school close to my workplace everyone of them having cell phone even though they are just 7 to 10 year olds, even my sister only 11 year old having 4 sim cards, when I ask her why do you need so many sim cards for? She said “some of my friends using star-cell network it would be great to have Star-cell so I can talk to my friends with lower cost, Smart network just to call with mom and dad, Cube for playing internet and Mfone for calling my school teacher to talk about the homework in case I don’t understand”. IF we look back 6 years ago there were only city people who can afford cell phone but since 2007 everything look so different, everyone having cell phone even the kid farmer and Cambodia aboriginal.
For Businessman and nobles special number is very important to them, to show that they are different from other and those number usually very expansive, usually the number consist of triple double numbers example: 0xx-223355, double triple numbers 0xx-222333, quad numbers 0xx-124444, double and quad numbers 0xx-225555 and the rare numbers really expansive that could cost you up to $USD10, 000 just make yourself own the number “6 number are all the same” 0xx-888888. Those kind of cell phone number usually determine their riches, powerful and fame, from what I see if you make a call to your client of some business center with random number they will put you on hold longer than the person who have special numbers, because Cambodia still one of the highest power distant country on earth so the riches do not wish to stand along the line with the poor, by having special number they believe they having different image in everyone’s view.
Cambodia is one of the too open market economy where there is no restricted entry to protect the existing firms, there are 9 cell phone service providers are operating in the country and all of them having a heavy competition to capture or protect the portion of their market share, it’s still surprise that how those firms still operate under profit?