Sri Lankan payphone operator Tritel Services has completed the testing phase of a CDMA 450MHz network, and is planning to deploy 40,000 CDMA-based public payphone booths over three years, with an emphasis on covering low-income rural communities. Tritel installed the first of its CDMA base stations in Gongala in late 2005 and has since carried out island-wide tests. The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) has given authorisation for the launch of commercial services. Last month Tritel said it would invest USD35 million to set up the network. Nirosha Weerasena, Head of Corporate Strategy, said of the project: ‘We are now ready to connect the remotest parts of the country, ensuring telecoms facilities for the less affluent. Payphone is the only means of affordable communication available to low income brackets which form the majority of the Sri Lankan populace, who find fixed telephony and rapidly growing mobile services too expensive and out of their reach.’
Tritel currently operates a network of 5,000 wireline payphones, utilising the infrastructure of incumbent national telco Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT). It has a presence in around 80% of the island’s major towns and suburbs, and is the only payphone operator in Jaffna; it has regional offices in Colombo, Matara and Kurunegala. In September 2005 the TRC awarded fixed line CDMA licences to Tritel and Lanka Internet. SLT already offers CDMA wireless in the local loop (WiLL) voice services, as do rival telcos Suntel and Lanka Bell.