Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) says it connected some two million households to fibre by the end of December 2017, and with revenue derived from broadband/data/other services contributing LKR27 billion (USD173.4 million) last year – out of a total of LKR44.5 billion – it expects data to dominate revenue in 2018/19 despite what it sees as ‘thinning margins and rising CAPEX’ as it develops its own over-the-top (OTT) platforms for voice, audio, picture and video messaging services. In addition, SLT notes that to date it has connected 315 government establishments to the fibre-optic network, and will add 545 more by the end of 2018, while it also provides IPTV on both its copper and fibre network. Indeed, the PTO has invested over LKR70 billion over the last two years to expand a fibre-optic network for faster broadband, with its chairman Kumarasinghe Sirisena telling shareholders: ‘In terms of the telco industry, growth will focus on broadband-related digital services. Broadband revenues will dominate the income statement within the next three years.’
The chairman is not complacent, however, and points to the fact that SLT’s ability to provide 100Mbps speeds over fibre will likely boost third-party OTT take-up which, in turn, will impact on the operator’s legacy voice call and MMS/SMS revenues. ‘The year 2017 was another turbulent year for the global and local telecommunication industry as revenue from IDD and other traditional avenues declined due to the threat from OTT players,’ SLT confirmed, although it does not consider OTT a threat it is not able to meet by developing its own content platforms instead.