Sri Lanka plans to expand its mobile phone market to five players in a bid to bring down consumer telephony costs, the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) announced on Monday. Following hot on the heels of a 3G licence auction, a fifth national GSM network operating concession will be offered to potential bidders that apply before the closing date of 30 June, priced at around USD4 million. TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database notes that the regulator launched a 3G licence tender on 23 May by inviting expressions of interest from the country’s existing four cellcos — Dialog, Mobitel Sri Lanka, Celltel Lanka and Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka. It gave the companies two weeks to respond to the offer of an unspecified number of USD5 million UMTS concessions including W-CDMA spectrum in the 2GHz band. The 3G auction is expected to be completed in July 2006. According to GlobalComms, the country’s total number of mobile subscribers reached 3.6 million at the end of March 2006, a cellular penetration of more than 18%, up from 11.3% at the end of 2004. Telekom Malaysia subsidiary Dialog Telekom currently dominates the sector with 2.3 million subscribers, or 65% of the market.