Cellcos expanding in war-torn north-east

14 Jul 2009

Sri Lanka’s Daily News quotes three cellcos as saying that they are making special efforts to tap unmet demand in northern and eastern regions where government troops recently defeated rebel forces, in line with an accelerated development programme in the affected provinces. Hans Wijayasuriya, CEO of the largest mobile operator by users, Dialog Telekom, said that the company was ‘steadfastly committed to support the government in its aggressive programme of infrastructure development in the recently liberated areas in the Northern and Eastern provinces. We have expanded our services in many parts of the north and the east with a total investment to date exceeding USD30 million.’ Dialog intends to expand 2G and 3G/3.5G mobile services, CDMA-based fixed line and WiMAX-based broadband services in both territories.

The CEO of rival GSM operator Mobitel, Suren Amarasekera, said: ‘The north and east development plans over the next three years are estimated to reach approximately USD100 million. We have already deployed over 25 base stations in the Northern province over the past few months, and plan to deploy over 100 base stations in the Northern and Eastern provinces and hope to accelerate our development in the liberated areas…We have prioritised our services around townships and trunk roadways. We believe it is essential for us to enable these two provinces to leap frog and have the very latest of mobile, voice, data and video services available at the very earliest. Our overall investment in deploying GSM amounts to over USD300 million countrywide.’

Tigo Sri Lanka CEO Dumindra Ratnayaka said that the company had already launched its GSM-based services in Northern province. ‘We have commenced [rolling out] coverage in the east and hope to expand our coverage in the north very soon. We already have coverage in Northern province including Vavuniya.’