Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) will award a contract to build and operate a high speed fibre-optic backbone on the island by April, with companies in the running said to include Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the country’s largest cellco Dialog Telekom (which also operates an extensive fibre backbone), India’s state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Ltd (BSNL) and Swedish technology provider Ericsson, reports Lanka Business Online. ‘We are hoping to award the deal by April 2010,’ said director general of the TRC, Priyantha Kariyapperuma, adding that the project could cost around USD150 million and would be a vital step in deploying fibre-to-the-home (FTTH) facilities. The regulator is currently evaluating expressions of interest and will issue detailed documents to qualified companies early next year, before final bids are submitted. The winning firm will also get a USD12.5 million subsidy from the World Bank’s e-Sri Lanka project, whilst the resulting fibre network will be augmented by piggybacking on the Ceylon Electricity Board power distribution network and Sri Lanka Railways routes. ‘We will have to regulate the pricing so that everyone will have access to the backbone,’ Kariyapperuma said.