India’s largest mobile operator Bharti Airtel yesterday won a licence from Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission to operate 2G and 3G mobile networks. Bharti won the island’s fifth mobile concession with a bid of around USD4 million, beating nine hopefuls including its domestic rival Reliance Communications. Bharti has promised to invest USD100 million within its first year of operation and says it will roll out commercial GSM services by the end of this year. It will compete against Dialog Telekom, owned by Telekom Malaysia, Celltel, owned by Millicom, Mobitel, owned by state-run Sri Lanka Telecom, and Hong-Kong-owned Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka. Sunil Mittal, chairman and managing director of Bharti Airtel, said: ‘Today, the South Asian region offers tremendous growth opportunities and Sri Lanka is a very promising market for telecom services.’ According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, by the end of September 2006 Sri Lanka was home to 4.6 million mobile subscribers, up from three million a year earlier, in a country of 20 million.