The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has approved Bharti Airtel Lanka’s request to shut down its 3G mobile network from 26 June 2022. In a brief statement, the industry regulator said that any Airtel customers still using a 3G-enabled device would be automatically disconnected after that date. The mobile network operator (MNO) is reportedly shuttering the network to free up precious spectrum bandwidth to further develop its 4G LTE infrastructure on the island. TRCSL has given the MNO 15 months to implement the transition smoothly, noting that Airtel must ‘absorb at least 90% of its 3G subscriber base into their 4G network during the transition phase’ subject to it:
• conducting public awareness campaigns to encourage Airtel subscribers to migrate to the 4G network ahead of 3G shutdown
• taking every endeavour to provide 4G handsets for its 3G subscribers at subsidised rates payable by instalment
• driving the transition by offering incentives such as promotions for the first six months
• notifying its 3G subscribers by sending SMS, at regular intervals, to replace their handset with a 4G device before the deadline
The TRCSL has further instructed Airtel subscribers who are still using a 3G-enabled mobile phone – and indeed a 2G-only device – to contact Airtel over the short code 780 immediately to obtain 4G connectivity and mobile phone under concessionary terms that will last until 1 June 2022.