In an interview with the local Daily Mirror newspaper, Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) Group Chief Executive Officer Lalith Seneviratne confirmed that the state-controlled operator is preparing to launch a ‘pre-commercial’ 5G service in mid-2021 – under the SLT-Mobitel brand – ahead of the planned allocation of mobile spectrum to support a full-blown commercial launch next year. Confirming that it is using spectrum in the 3.5GHz band, allocated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), for the pre-commercial launch phase, Seneviratne confirmed: ‘By the middle of this year, we will have pre-commercial application of 5G perhaps with few industrial vertical applications as well’. However, the official went on to stress that as the TRCSL has not yet published any details of the allocation process, the timetable is fluid. ‘The exact time of our 5G rollout will depend on the time when the telecom sector regulator issues the licence allocating spectrum. Once the licence is issued, we will invest. We will need around one year to develop the commercial application,’ he explained. SLT-Mobitel has earmarked USD100 million for its 5G rollout in the coming years, on top of a further USD15 million to acquire the spectrum.