Rohan Samarajiva

Posted on September 19, 2004  /  10 Comments

We’ve basically followed the cookbook in terms of having regulation .. but we still have problems.

SL is a country where we’ve given licences, but there hasn’t been much transparency. The model we’ve set out it individual licenses where scarce resources are involved, but only authorizations otherwise. In other words, you don’t need to come with the Minister’s brother-in-law to operate.

Also, license without access to scarce resources is not meaningful. Abu Saeed Khan spoke of licenses being issued without frequencies, and I think that is a fraud. The legislation has been drafted. Once it goes through we can deregulate the pricing for mobile operators, etc. In a way Mr. Morogoda and myself worked very hard against the World Bank’s policy of not supporting infrastructure.

Unless the reforms are made, the money will be wasted. Our solution is least-cost subsidies to make networks, in two phases

Phase 1: (app 4 million people, including north and war-torn regions)

Phase 2: Rest of country

We think that these things that these things, infrastructure and e-Sri Lanka demand will stimulate the service sector, and then we will get the virtuous cycle.


  1. Almost all the efforts of elites like Prof Samarajeewa has been a farce .
    The rural -urban gap has widened as clearly indicative of offerins made in wireless Local loop licenses to go in to rural and changing later to 10 equivalent to one in rural .

  2. Those who try to narrow the gap even before opening the markets for oprators or soon after opening the markets are probably sincere though ignorant of the lessons of economic development process in the world. With market opening the initial outcome got to be widening gaps in income in every sense.

    Lets be realistic without falling into the trap of achieving so-called equality before growth.

  3. I agree with Luxman that equity without growth is impossible, you have to enlarge yhe pie to be able to divide it. This unfortunately is not understood by the Left in India. They are stalling growth in the telecom sector by putting ridiculous caps on FDI, their argument being that security concerns should restrict FDI, no counrty in the region i.e. Bangladesh, Sri Lanka or pakistan has these caps. I am sure they are as much concerned of their security. Coming back to growth, fresh entry brings in more competiiton, does away with the apprehension of collusion, puts pressure on the incumbent, intoroduces innovative maens for network expansion and provides more revenue for subsidy funding. India cannot be smug with its growth, to meet the target of 200 million subscribers until 2007, an investment of Rs. 1600 billion is required, and if FDI is waiting then why not.

  4. Rural Connectivity in Sri Lanka: I think the anonymous commenter is referring to the low rural rollout by Sri Lanka’s fixed entrants, Suntel and Lanka Bell. He/she is very well informed to know about the 1 rural connection = 10 urban connections rule that was adopted by the TRCSL in 1999 when I was DGT, for purposes of meeting some license conditions.

    The immediate cause of the additional value given to the rural connections of Suntel and LB was the report by the Consultant David Barr, which pointed out in no uncertain terms to extraordinary disadvantages the new entrants were facing in terms of rural access because of the flawed interconnection and access regime. The point that effective and non-discriminatory interconnection is a precondition of everything I have published/presented on this subject. I would agree that the rural rollout of all three fixed operators in Sri Lanka has fallen short of expectations. What the e Sri Lanka infrastructure solution tries to do is to address the causes, including effective interconnection and lowering the cost of backbone use.

  5. Mobile penetration in Cambodia: At the Internet Resource Management conference today in Colombo, I learnt that Cambodia has only 30,000 fixed lines, but over 770,000 mobile lines. The mobile share is as high as 96% ! Can some one explain me (a) The reason for this and (b) Is Cambodia the only country like this?

  6. Cambodia: Cambodia was the first country where mobile overtook fixed, somewhere in the mid or early 1990s. The reason was that they never got around to reforming the fixed telco, but issued several mobile licenses. This pattern can also be seen in Uganda and Bangladesh, where the fixed telco is now smaller than the mobile, by far. In Cambodia, the connection fee is extremely low, but airtime is higher than in India. For whatever it’s worth, I’ll upload a set of slides containing ITU data on mobile prices.

  7. I fully agree with the guest who wrote on Oct 17 that “all the efforts of elites like Prof Samarajeewa has been a farce.”

    Who is Rohan Samarjiva? Has he got a real tract record of achieveing the goals assigned to him?

    This is whta he wrote about himself when he was at the Ohi State University:

    “I have conducted research on the process of institutional reform in Sri
    Lankan telecommunications, published in Asian Journal of Communication,
    1993. This work can be extended to institutional reform in other parts of
    government, particularly agencies providing infrastructure, on one hand and
    to media industries on the other. In collaboration with Gamini Keerawella,
    I have written on contemporary Sri Lankan political developments, including
    the role of the media. I was one of the founders of the Institute for
    International Research, a Peradeniya-based collective of university

  8. Mr.Samarajeewa

    My problem can be out of the above topic. Though I thought you’re the best person to ask this question.
    I came across (in my mobile phone) some Outbox masgs were getting deleted. Then one day suddenly I saw One masg was automatically created and was inside my outbox. I’m very sure I didn’t create that SMS.I’m very sure about that & the phone was on my table. So nobody couldn’t touch the phone.
    That msg wasn’t delivered to that person. But it was in my Outbox. And the next day all my Outbox Inbox masgs were deleted. When I complained my Comm. Provider they said nothing wrong with my SIM & said there’re can be a fault in my phone. But this msg only created once & only to one person. This sounds not a familiar virus to me. Nobody heard this kind of a thing. I’m sure my phone has no fault. Can you explain this? Is this a virus? Is this a fault of my phone?