Colloquium on Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Sector: A Tale of Missed Opportunities?

Posted on November 28, 2006  /  1 Comments

As part of the Six Country Indicators Project, Malathy presented the interim findings from the Sri Lankan country study (over Skype). The study assesses Sri Lanka’s telecom sector and regulatory performance. It employs the common methodology and list of indicators adopted for the Six Country study.

Methodology includes a literature review, semi-structured interviews, data collection for supply-side indicators and the TRE perceptions survey.

Limitations encountered: sparse comparable, time-series data and operator data only available from two public quoted companies.

DG: Don’t the companies give subscriber information?
MKJ: No they don’t.
RS: TRC does not disaggregate either, so there is no access to this info.

Description of key reforms/regulatory events from 1980-2006

Supply-side indicators
RS: Rolling CAGR – What does it show?
MKJ: Shows a smoother picture, trendlines.

Slide 14 and 15 – Looking at mobile trends, you see how competition has grown the sector.

Prepaid and postpaid subscriber comparisons show they were almost equal around 1997-1998, because Dialog was non-existant at the time.

With regard to operator strategy, Hutch is completely prepaid while Mobitel is pushing for postpaid.

ARPUs are increasing for postpaid. This would mean that postpaid numbers are reducing?

Slide 18 shows clearly how CDMA has reduced the communication gap across Sri Lanka. Although SLT had CDMA licenses back in 1998, they did not have the frequencies to roll-out.

Technology that by-passes regulation – VOIP and Unified Licensing
In interviews with 7 PSTN operators, they see VOIP as a way to grow their business.
DG: Are the operators advertising for VOIP services?
MKJ: No.
MH: In fact, SLT has two tiers – MaxTalk and the Passport cards – of which MaxTalk uses VOIP technology and is cheaper.
RS: Net2Phone services are freely sold at communication bureaus and it does not bother anyone.

DG: Do you see fixed prices and mobile prices converging?
MKJ: Cannot comment on this until the baskets come out.
RS: There is value in looking at cost per call charges alone, because rental and connection charges etc are sunk costs and when making a decision to call people consider the call per minute charge at the time.
RS: In India, fixed and mobile are not seen as substitutes.
MKJ: Same story even in SL, where there is some sort of status involved with owning a fixed phone.

TRE Assessment
The TRE sample was made up of operators, investment analysts, private bar, media, academia, corporates, consumers, donors, etc.

Mobile sector comes out with higher scores in all 6 aspects.

Scores of “average effectiveness” across all 6 dimensions for both fixed and mobile sectors.

Market entry scores are highest for both fixed and mobile. Low scores on interconnection.

1 Comment

  1. From the customer’s point of view. SLT’S Maxtalk works on VOIP but yet the quality of service is at stake. If they are using VOIP SLT is making merry out of this business. At communication bureas NET2PHONE is sold at nearly Rs.5/-. Most of them offer this service even to our home phone or mobile.

    SLT could introduce a new package for around Rs.6/-.

    End of the day SLT is taking the subscribers for ride.