New cell phone war erupts

Business, Main Stories


THE cell phone war in the country has taken a new twist with Digicel reportedly burning bemobile’s brand handsets, apparently  to prevent them from re-circulating.
The “swap” scheme of handsets (and SIM cards) being carried out by bemobile and Digicel has people asking what either telco would do with the products it retrieved after being swapped by shifting customers. 
While Bemobile has claimed Digicel is burning its Alcatel 203 orange and black brand phones, it says it would return Digicel’s swapped phones to Digicel headquarters in Port Moresby.
However, Digicel denied there was such an arrangement.
Bemobile claims it was losing airtime when its mobile phone products, in this case, the Alcatel, were being burnt.
This claim surfaced after bemobile obtained pictures of what looked like debris of the popular orange and black Alcatel phones reportedly burnt at Digicel’s warehouse at Aircorps Road in Lae, Morobe province. 
A Digicel spokesperson said on anonymity that Digicel was only reacting to bemobile’s public advertisements calling for “swap” of handsets from the other network.
“Since bemobile re-launched last Nov 1, it has been actively encouraging through radio and print media Digicel customers to swap their handsets.
“Digicel waited a long time before responding as our focus is on growing new base and bringing cell phone services to new customers and new areas in PNG, not simply trying to swap out existing customers.
“However, Digicel is forced to respond with its own offer as bemobile continued their handset swap activities,” the Digicel spokesperson said.
Digicel expressed surprise why bemobile was concerned about what the customers did with their handsets because they had paid for the phones and decided later to swap.
Bemobile claimed an unaccounted number of Alcatel phones had been destroyed by Digicel from those sold in Lae and Ramu after massive phone swaps done in the province.
“The Alcatel handset was purchased from Europe at K70 per phone.
“It has been hugely discounted so it is affordable to the ordinary people … the selling price of K29 per phone is a hefty mark down by bemobile,” the telco said.