Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) today kicked off a tender for 3G licences by inviting expressions of interest from the country’s four mobile operators, Dialog Telekom, Celltel, Mobitel and Hutchison. Companies have two weeks to respond to the offer of a USD5 million UMTS concession including W-CDMA spectrum in the 2GHz band. The TRC’s Director General, Kanchana Ratwatte, told Lanka Business Online that the 3G auction was only open to existing domestic operators and that the regulator hoped to issue an unspecified number of licences in around six weeks time.
This month the island’s mobile market leader Dialog, owned by Telekom Malaysia, finalised a plan to invest LKR15 billion (USD150 million) in 3G services, expanding coverage and capacity of its GSM network, and development of broadband internet services and fibre-optic infrastructure. Dialog launched a 3G testing programme back in March 2004, and subsequently rolled out a pilot W-CDMA service spanning twelve base stations in Colombo. Mobitel, run by dominant fixed line operator SLT, also possesses a trial UMTS licence, and is expected to begin 3G trials as early as next month.