Mobile TV goes ahead, IPTV held up

11 Aug 2008

According to Sri Lankan online newspaper ColomboPage, Mobitel, the wholly owned mobile subsidiary of national fixed line operator Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) has been granted a licence for mobile television broadcasting by the Ministry of Mass Media & Information. The nationwide concession allows Mobitel to transmit domestic and international TV content to its subscribers over its 3.5G HSPA network, which it launched in December 2007 under the M3 brand. The operator is running TV adverts presenting M3’s mobile TV channels as an alternative to watching regular broadcast channels at home.

Meanwhile, the launch of SLT’s IPTV service, previously set for this month, has reportedly been delayed due to ‘operational problems’ and will now be launched by the end of the year. SLT’s CEO Pat Abeysekera told the country’s Sunday Times newspaper that the official launch date had not been finalised. IPTV is being prepared for launch under the banner of SLT Visioncom, a fully owned subsidiary of the incumbent telco, and has already undergone a pilot programme. However, the service requires an extensive deployment of ADSL2+ technology, which has reportedly not been completed yet. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, the Media Ministry granted a broadcasting licence to SLT in April 2007, permitting it to launch television services over platforms including IPTV.

SLT’s fixed line customer base reached over 1.5 million by the end of June 2008, including nearly 600,000 CDMA users. Because of its lower rollout cost, around 50,000 new CDMA connections were switched on in the first half of the year. However, PSTN and CDMA revenues dropped by 3% and 7% respectively in the six-month period, whilst Mobitel saw 69% revenue growth, and data services turnover climbed 55%.