More on Maldives

Posted on December 13, 2006  /  53 Comments

Several weeks ago we speculated on why the Maldives, with its tiny population, needed two undersea cables. The answer is that the first cable is a collaboration between the new entrant Wataniya and India’s disruptive competitor, Reliance (through its FLAG unit). This created enormous pressure on the complacent incumbent Dhiraagu, the result being the cable to Colombo.


A new fibre optic undersea cable that connects Maldives to Sri Lanka will bring down international call charges from the Indian Ocean coral atoll, officials said Tuesday.Until the cable was commissioned this month, bilateral traffic of 600,000 minutes per month was routed via more expensive satellite links.

The undersea cable is a 20 million US dollar joint venture between Sri Lanka Telecom, owned by Japan’s NTT and the government of Sri Lanka and the Maldive state telecom firm, Dhiraagu.

“We expect call charges to fall,” Sri Lanka Telecom Chief Executive Officer Shoji Takahashi said.


  1. the CEO may expect charges to fall. will have to see to belive. Dhiraagu is famous for squeezing their customers dry. (their internet pricing is one of the expensive in the world let alone the region )

    the main concern right now is the internet fees may not go down as expected. sure they may just lighly reduce. both FOCUS and DHIRAAGU offer lousy net service in top notch prices.

    we will have to wait and see if they will give value for money internet services once submarine cable takes effect.

  2. Dhiraagu has never actually cared about customers just as all other public service companies in Maldives. No doubt all these companies are in business for profit but in the Maldives its profit without the promised service. Imagine all the years of blood sucking from the small businesses in the name of “Maldives being too small and all that crap”. I guess with the new freedom awareness, the people of Maldives have become more sensitive to such rip off scams by these coporations who operate with the government’s backing!

  3. Dhiraagu the so called “(private) firm And Maldives telecom authority have a special relationship and agenda just to crush the hopes of Maldivian Young population,, as Maldives is known as one of the Most corrupted countries on earth where an evil regime operates for more than 28 yrs , which has no respect for the rights of its citizens, and its highly believable that everything is squeezed under the direct politcs from the old dictator.

    So we have serious doubts about this fibre optic undersea cable’s operations… this cable won’t change the politics on the ground of ‘evil politics’…

    Don’t expect it will change the tariffs, if it changes the tariffs, there will be other ways that this dictatorships will get that money…nothing will cahnge unless we have a faking dictator who is almost demented…. neither Dhiraagu nor Focus infocom can lead unless we oust Mr. Maumoon , asia’s longest serving dictator.

  4. all the people FADABOE

  5. Wataniyaa has brought lots of changes to Maldives telecom. This is a good example of the benifit of the competition.
    Dhiraagu has earned lots of money and every drop of Maldivian blod has been tasted. However they failed to bring this change untill focus and wataniyya decide to land a cable to Maldives.

    This is also a very clear cut to understnad the leadership of a company which has been squeezing maldivians for years.

    Also the shareholders of SLT should be aware that Dhiraagu is not a company providing the most new technologies and they may run after Wataniyaa in a near future. Sadly this will not be a good news for the share holders.

  6. My point of view Shows the implementation of fibreoptic submarine cable of Dhiraagu was only to compete newly formed second private operator of maldives “Wataniya Telecom”.

  7. yes i agree with you rilvan.
    Dhiraagu have not implemented the fibre optic cable in Maldives yet even and the phoen call they say to be the first call through the fibre optic cable was made through satellite. check another article more on this issue on this website

    they had good articles on Dhiraagu

  8. Use ur heads not ur mouth. Just sit back n relax. 27 years already been passed, what u can do is just bluffing. I hope Wataniya will offer u pple free phones with no calls charged.

  9. Barabo told a truth, ‘haluvan beynungothakah heluveyneyh aharunn dhivehin’ adhi madukohlanvee dhuvaskohlaku.

    Dhiraagu will do what ever in hands they can to persuade us that they are doing a good job, which is absolutely ridiculous as of now. Due to corruption and dictators influence all companies are lagging in operation, especially dhiraagu, wataniyya and focus. Focusves eydheyni “foakeh” kahala serviceah. The issue is these guys can survive squeezing us Maldivian customer’s cold bloodedly. Though two has laid cables it may not be possible to see any benefits near future. Hurihaa enmeyn’ aharun felumaaigen kuriyah.

  10. this is f**k crazyland, get the hell out of here golhaa boa, u ar the master of al the crimes in this peacefull country. golhaa boa istiufaaa…

  11. Obviously some people would like to politicise this. But 2 cables is much better for the Maldives in terms of creating competition and ofcource as a back up, should one of the cables is not functioning.

    And most importantly, Maldives external communication would not be dependent on a single country be it India or Sri Lanka. 2 cables is clearly win for the Maldivians. Politicising eveything is no the way, and Maldivians should learn to be smarter than that.

  12. Neither Wataniya nor Dhiraagu is good or bad.
    The REAL PROBLEM is the lack of competition.
    With 2 cables, competition has come.
    And it is suprising some people are complaining.
    Obviously not all of our citizen brothers think from their brain. Some seem to think from other parts of their anotanomy, and all such people seems to belong to MDP.

  13. Watanya, Dhiraagu and Focus can’t bring down their prices even if they wanted to do so. The Dictatorial Regime of Gayoom regulates the chargeable rates. Gayoom don’t want cheap and fast internet connections hence many Maldivians get access to the internet. Easy and cheap internet access will weaken Gayooms propaganda influences on the youth.

  14. Lets see who wins and who is most efficient. As citizens, we shall watch the competition.

    My guess is both these parties would collude in secret to charge higher prices from Maldivians. So nothing much will change in pricing. This is ineveiatble and would be very hard for the Telecom Authority to act. So before long there would be calls for a 3rd cable operator.


  15. 1st we had one company, or one monopoly,
    Now we have 2 companies, and most likely a joint Monopoly of a Duopoly.

    Stil there is no guarantee that prices would come down.

    The only way to moderate prices would be the threat of a 3rd operator. The Telecom Authority should start talking about it sooner rather than later at least to threat these 2 companies into submission.

  16. Does anyone know that the Dictator has direct links to FLAG telecom. The guys laying the Wataniya and Focus cable. Initially Dhiraagu was involved in the consortium and when, i dunno why, Dhiraagu pulled out, the Dictator was so furious he immedialtely issued a licence to Wataniya to operate an International Gateway.

    Well think about this… this can be true… I just overheard a conversation.


  17. I hope people comment intelligently without being foulmouthed. I think the government has done a good job in introducing another competitor to dhiraagu. Witho or without external pressure is another argument.

    As of now the internet services are lousy..I hope they will improve very soon. As of now Dhiraagu is offering a RF5/min IDD calls till end of Januar.. and hope they will drop teh prices for good. And expect wataniya will also be as competetive with a healthy competition.

    With help external worldwide organizations and commitment from Maldives, for agud ICT structure and many proposal n reports on the same…

    I guess no need to be so glum n grumpy.. the future is bright. :)

  18. Why two or many competitors need more fiber cables? Gayyoom! what u’ve studied! Don’t u think that we have better idea than you? Why if one cable owned by government and give the cable to the competitor for rentally bases to serve us. Likewise towers and electricity cables etc owned by goverment and to be issued as rentally. Competitor will pay charges for the rental. Therefore competitor will provide better services at low prices on TV, Internet, Telephone Service, Electricity, Radio Services, everything.

  19. If you take the time to peel of the name of ‘Dhiraagu’ you will see ‘Golha govt & cable and wireless (British public company). In truth these are two parties who has been sucking our blood for the last two decades.

    Anyway Dhiraagu has done a lot of good to Maldivians with a higest telecom coverage in this region albeit the geography of the islands.

    Two cables going landing in India and Sri Lanka is good for us but may affect the pricing in the short term while the companies strive to cover the investment let alone the maintenance fee on these cable.

    The good news apart from the lower prices and higer speeds is for the VoIP users with lower latency and hopefully lower contention ratios.

    I do not agree that Dhiraagu internet service is worse while there is no need to mention about Focus services. Focus is scam which was meant to make a few govt. cronies rich but the ppl who runs this company has no brains, and Dhiraagu takes the advantage.

  20. The purpose of 2 cables is to create competion. But would it? I can only assume so.

  21. Wataniyaa ??? You call them a worthy competitor. I would rather call them typical Arab liers who managed to secure this deal with the blessings of Fathey Jameel and Ghassan Abdul Qayoom who are sleeping partners of this deal. How they got selected amongst the more eligibale competitors is questionable. Have they given the promised coverage to the entire Maldives? Have they paid to the various contractors who got involved in this rush project ? They boasted of linking Mladives with the sub-marine cable few weeks back? Where is the link? Maybe its connected to Theemuge and FJ’s house only. Yes I agree Dhiraagy was expensive, but as any other sensible company they have changed and undoubtedly they have skilled Maldivian Labour fully trained by them and the service is excellent. Thanks Dhiraagu….Keep us in touch.

  22. What we are seeing now is the competitive advantages of having two telecom companies operating side by side. We will be in a better position than before in terms of monthly charges and fees. Dhiraagu cannot squeez us anymore. Thanks to Wataniya for their endeavour and dedication.

  23. how much does this cost for the companies? Dhiraagu says 27 mil. Sri Lanka says 20 mil (who is investing and how much 50% 50% deal?) also some even say that Japan paid for it. Thank you Japan. And wataniyya and focus how much? another 27 mil? is it worth it. it would have been far better to use that money to help the tsunami effected people. Anyway what ever it is, why complain. we the customers are the ones who get the advantages.

  24. Maboo – you are mistaken. Dhiraagu on their own invested to lay 3 more pieces of cable if you may know, this includes two and half degree channel which is actually a good news for people living in the far south. This cost Dhiraagu extra.

    Thia Golha govt. promised a third ISP by the end of this year. Where are they…this is how the govt’s promises are left to fade away. Nobody is talking about this….

  25. It's never going to happen

    for more than 20 years we have been getting shmuck from dhiraagu and more shmuck from our government. Wonder how long wataniyya will surviive whitout adapting the kind of policy which the maldivian authorities and businesses follow.
    this is a ruined nation , whether its fibre optics or even anything more advance than that,Maldivians will always be money hungered and power crazed people…

  26. Dhiraagu is just a service provider and a commercial company.Most guys who blabber in here thinks that dhiraagu sucks their blood.NO.It’s actually the govt who’s suckin your blood.The Telecommunications Authority of Maldives which is the regulator decides the price for whihc a service is given.But they never mentioned they are the ones who fixes the price in their website which leads the public to think that its the service provider that sucks their blood.Remember that 55% of dhiraagu is govt.Whats the use in reducing the prices since we maldivians are so highly paid.

  27. its a fact that when any company in any industry has monopoly power they will just use it in order to maximise their profit. when Dhiraagu was alone in the industry they had monopoly power. now when the industry opened to competition they started reducing prices and tried to reduse cost and improve qualities of services. this is an economic common sense that any body must have. no one can say that sucking blood of maldivian. Its this Golha government who regulated the market, so though dhiraagu has capabilities to give all ICT servises to all the island of the maldives, they have to wait for approval from the golhas.
    as every one know, golha does not want most of the maldivians who reside in Atolls to be educated or to open their eyes to the real world. by mistake he gave the permission and now its difficult him to manage now with easy communication through out the maldives. what ever he do spread through in a second.

  28. lets see what happens in future.there is a telecom regulatory office here in Maldives.We dont have to compare wataniya and dhiraagu.unlike dhiraagu wataniyya is providing only mobile service.dhiraagu provides all the services like fixed line, mobile internet and data.dhiraagu have connected all the atolls in the Maldive islands.
    the prices are not that much higher.
    Maldives population is only about 300,000 people, less than a city of acountry.So this was not a very wide market.the investments are very high here because of small islands.
    dhiraagu would not have to go after wataniyaa.
    these two cables are connected to different international gateways.
    we will see which company will succeed in the future.

  29. Hei Al Wataniyya …How much % do you pass to Farish & Fathey for their shares??? Have you paid Airlanka Alibe ??
    Your Boss landed here on his private jet and was received by Fathey/.even before the govt announced of competition.

  30. Dhiraagu is the best ..dont ever play with my blood and this company is ruled by my party well known and famous dhivehi rayyithunge party!!From this company too our zaeem earns a lot of money..soo its for all of us!! prayers are with my president Maumoon abdul Gayoom(The most brutal doictator in this world!!huh ! quite strange Dho?)…..Zaim

  31. I totally agree that the blame on rocket high prices should go to the regulator. A regulator shud intervene when the prices are high and when a competitor is subsidising.

    But from what I have learned over the years what the regulator does is throw out the window any tarrif reductions that Dhiraagu, Wataniya or Focus Infocom proposes.

    Ask someone from the regulatory body.. They will agree


  32. This is Golhaboas Island. Golhaa rule is to drink their peoples blood. because of that telecoms company is trying to help Golhaa boa to drink golha country citizens blood.

  33. Our system is a unique system as we are unique in all respects and we have a unique government, a unique president. We need more and more years to be more unique and our present goverenment and our unique president requires more and more years to make our country more unique. Why worry about dhiraagu and wataniya? Their rates and system is based for our country. Keep on with your life and just feel that you are a Maldivian, a unique species…

  34. As a research organization working on ICT issues, we find the Maldives case quite interesting. The market size suggests that one undersea cable with an open access regime (competitors allowed to use the cable on non-discriminatory terms at cost-oriented prices) would be the most logical. However, as both Pakistan and Sri Lanka can attest, there are real dangers to relying on one cable; when that gets cut the whole country suffers. Therefore, it is good that Maldives is getting two cables, even though the utilization rates will be low for quite a while.But for the true benefits of redundancy to be gained, the regulator will still have to ensure that traffic can be easily cut over from a failed cable and that the two operators agree on reasonable terms for backup facilities. This should not be difficult, because the benefits are mutual.

    There may also be benefits to running certain kinds of traffic on one cable instead of another. For example, the significant traffic to Sri Lanka originating in the Wataniya network may be economically routed on the Dhiraagu-SLTL cable. But this is a commercial judgement. It is possible that Wataniya will prefer to route all traffic through FLAG, especially because FLAG is also planning to land in Sri Lanka as part of its SAARC initiative.

    The redundancy benefits will flow to all customers, but primarily to business customers including any BPO operators. For ordinary customers to benefit through price reductions, it will be necessary for the two operators to price independently of one another. This is not common when there are only two operators (a duopoly). Even with more than 2 operators, you can see that pricing is not truly competitive in Sri Lanka (all prices converted to USD):

    True competitive pricing will come either from additional licenses being issued or mobile number portability being implemented. More than any country in S Asia, Maldives is ready for mobile number portability.

    Claims are being made that SLTL has already reduced calling prices to Maldives while Maldives has not. It will be interesting to get data on that on this thread.

  35. Dhiraagu Has already cut down there price for calling to srilanka

  36. Ur right Ahmed Ali, Dhiraagu has already reduced the call charges for Srilanka to celebrate its successfull operation of the first fibre optic submarine cable. Did Wataniya has done that? no, still they couldnt finish the termination of the cable to India.

    As like Barabo said dont waste ur words, just think and support for these teletented companies who are hardly working to bring the latest telecom serviceS in this small country. Be gr8full that u have a chance to use these services.

    bye the way DHIRAAGU is only the company who introduces GSM service in the Maldives and the company will remain to bring us the latest technologies.

    Wataniya is a just a toddler, its operations has just begun, its prices is still not cheaper than compared to Dhiraagu. The most obivous thing is no one can offer u any service without a fee.

  37. Its true lets celebrate the successfull operation of the submarin cable of Dhiraagu. Dhiraagu will reduce all prices before Wataniya. Wataniya has to be run after Dhiraagu. Go best n Go with Dhiraagu.

  38. Dear Rohan Samarajiva,
    What is mobile number portability and if Maldives has the capability, why is it not happeneing?

    Also what is the Telecom Authority of Maldives doing about it.

  39. NUMBER PORTABILITY(NP)needed urgently in Maldives. TAM please take action on NP.

    Maldivain customers are reluctant to change operators, be it Wataniya or Dhiraagu if they cannot keep their telephone number. For both residential and business customers there are costs of changing stationery, informing contacts and entries in directories. Businesses fear that they will lose business as a result of customers or suppliers no longer being able to contact them. Callers to business or residential customers who change operators also incur costs of changing their records or of time spent dialling the wrong number. With NP customers save these costs.

    There are also other wider benefits of NP. Some customers may change to more efficient operators if NP is introduced, thus saving expenditure on telephony. This will make the industry more competitive, and encourage more operators to enter the market. This will force existing operators to become more efficient, and the national economy will benefit from having a more competitive telecommunications industry.

  40. Amiru is correct in his description.

    In mature markets (Maldives has a mobile penetration of over 80%, so it surely qualifies), number portability is essential for competition. In countries where penetration is in the single digits, the operators can compete over who gets the new customers. In mature markets, they have to compete for the existing customers. For that number portability is essential.

    There are costs associated with number portability, which is why the regulator’s involvement is necessary.

    Can Ahmed Ali or someone else give the actual implemented price reductions by Dhiraagu? How much was it before for a minute and how much for a minute now?

  41. As you know the maldives telcom prices are too much for the ordinary people in maldives, as both wataniya and focus infocom hav recently put a very cheap plan to the tables of Telecom authority of maldives but unfortunatly it was rejected by the direct order from The president od Maldives itself due to the lower prices both companies hav offered. As i was one of the person who works in TAM

  42. You guys Must know that the president of maldives Mr. maumoon abdul gayoom himself operates the TAM , i can assure you this because recently focus infocom put very cheap planes on to the table of telecom authority for approval but it was rejected by TAM due the direct involvement of mr maumoon , who’s known well for giving orders to block certain sites that are openly rejecting his agendas .

    So i am pretty sure that this has nothing to do with the cables been laid , but this phenomena is happening elsewhere in the maldives. And it shows that Mr. Maumoon himself is meddling all the affairs in the maldives. Maumoon isn’t a qualified man for Information technology neither he has studied it but it seems he knows everything!!!:O

  43. Quote from 40
    How much was it before for a minute and how much for a minute now?

    Please answer the question above.

  44. Nothins changed, its big talk only , this cabling will bankrupt the ordinary maldivians in future, i am very much sure.

  45. SLTL’s posted price for Maldives remains at LKR 30 (with taxes amount to around USD 0.30 at current exchange rate) according the SLTL website. That has not gone down.

    This is a high price. The absurd termination prices in South Asia have created this wierd situation in whuch it is cheaper to call the US from Sri Lanka (around USD 0.20 posted price, but discounts take it down to USD 0.07) than neighboring Maldives or India. If the hooha around the cable at least brings these prices down to the minimum bracket, it would be something.

  46. A lot posint i’d say, why does everything have to be politicized so much, a few wise posts suggest that we look at the changes amoungst us. I have insiders at WTM, Focus and Dhiraagu. we are not in a posintion to speculate and then come up with rediculed ideas and hatred. Its true that a Monopoly business would plan their activities where they have to cover the cost of implementation at a speed. Its true that prices were a lot higher when Dhiraagu operated as a monopoly. But wake up, they have atleast kept a gradual decrease in prices in the form of promotions, not to forget the gradual annual decrease in Prices. Oh! blood sucking, why dont you think of all the community activities they are funding for, The SHE progect for helping Thalassemic children. The funds for Island development committees NGO’s to hold their recreational activities, sponsors… theres a lot to mention. Its not that all their profit is plunged down the drain. Its always wise to think before you leap. It was really disappointing when WTM called out the sponsorship they have taken up for the football tournament managed by the recreational people at Airports and Immigration.
    I’d say that WTM is a disgrace to WT international. Their service level did not come near standards of our expectation of a competitior and still is.
    Alot talked about the submarine cable, I’m sure Dhiraagu would have walked out of the consortium for much better reasons than following the consortium. Ever wondered why that was? Did you ever think that SLT’s landing station is a Major HUB of the submarine cable where as the reliance’s is not ? Ever wondered if the lousy internet and other services, its speeds in India would have an effect on the Cable laid by Wataniya. TVM Shakeebbe was infact very true that a hen upon laying only one egg makes a lot of noise but a Turtle comes ashore descretely without a noise, lays a thousand eggs without even a sigh and leaves. Dhiraagus turtle streatagy has always given them advantages keeping its promise to Dhiraagu customers. There was some crap about the first call on the fibre was done via satellite.. man where do you get those kinds of ideas.. Was wataniya focus and TAMs consortium able to make even a test call, and see it drop even half way. Dhiraagu led by a lot of enthusiastic maldivian staff, the technlogy is very new and infant… but atleast they have tried and succeeded with flying colors. So lets not be foulmouthed, we the people of maldivs rule maldives not a president or a regime. If we are determined to improve our lives its not only the goverment or service providers duty, we have to work for it not talk for it, we need action, not foulmouthed words.
    Lets see who wins the race of telecommunications, oh oh oh btw Dhiraagu has soft launched the first public Wifi internet acess at Haa alif Dhidhdhoo just parellel to the Telecom fair 2006. Its free now… they say that its the very first initiative to cover all the Islands with Internet. Good intiative, good job and well done. For me I’d always go with the best, and for me its still Dhiraagu, until proven otherwise.

    Cheers to all brothers and sisters working for Dhiraagu and working desperately to make Maldives a great country.

    Sultan( Colombo, Srilanka)

  47. Ahem! Its useles to argue that a golhaa is a golhaa any where you go, people its high time think about the maldives dictorships demise are nearing an end with this fibre optic cable. lol its amazing the great dictator’s personal defenders, defend his goals by defending dhiraagu with talking about wifi, it seems wifi is a golden pot to them.

    For nearly 20 years dhiraagu was eating the poor man’s bread without any humanity and its the same thing happening now, though there are some cosmetic changes brought to the system.

    Think about it … even though we tried not to politicised the case but it seems we are driven to this by the facts we see from the real ground. take a look from below :)

  48. Sultan where u from dude… your ip shows that you are from maldives but u says u r writing from srilanka…dude this is twenty first century! common you cannot disguise like that buddy :P

  49. I’m here for holidays with my family in Haa, Alif Dhidhdhoo… using the FREE public wifi provided by Dhiraagu. I study is Srilanka. used to having the same footer for my comments. :P

    Not a supporter of any political party nor the government, btw any one defending Maldives, Dhiraagu and the hard work of every Maldivian dont need to be labelled Defending Gayoom or offending him, we work to make our homeland a better one, by by means of opposing as well as supporting…you guys are so pathetic.. happy commenting and I really appreciate those who took their time to elaborate, most welcome dudes.

    Sultan- (Haa afil Dhidhdhoo, Maldives)

  50. Yo sultan bro i guess its pathetic to defend or support a golhaa who seemed to be controlling all the riches of Maldives. May be Dhiraagu will give wifi to The are of Theemuge Or Riyaasee Ganduwaru to enjoy Golhaabo the dictator’s support and double promotions. But what do you think what the ordinary Maldivian will get? Bro common you must not defend an old golhaa who is so much demented after more than 28 years of complete iron first, I thought you brothers are thinking about the ordinary citizens, not what dhiraagu gives which 100% temporary and unexceptable according to the norms of the civilized world….

    Cheers n thanks

    Sultan junior from Male’

  51. Hi all, do you guys know that Dhiraagu’s 99% of its staffs are Maldivians? and they only implement what they promise to its customers not just persuading us by lying like what WATANIYA did. and 100% of Wataniya’s net profit will go directly to their overseas accounts ( some accounts are made for few MAldivians as mentioned in few comments hehe). what MAldives has gained from this? and to our economy development? guys i still believe DHIRAAGU will bring us changes and will bring all high technology to Maldivese. im proud of DHIRAAGU as a Maldivian. GOD bless DHIRAAGU. coz Wataniya has a hidden Agend behind all these lies. thnx

  52. There are 2 cables because Dhiraagu chose not to participate in the FLAG cable but to find another way!!! Perhaps this is a wise decision as the Wataniya cable is still not live but Dhiraagu cable is already, at least partially, live. Time will tell who the winner is in the cable race.
    Given that recent earth quake in Taiwan and it disrupted telcom service, 2 cables to Maldives maybe a blessing in disguise as it diversifies the cable connection to Maldives.

  53. Number portability is crucial at this stage and TAM should introduce it as soon as possible. It is the biggest barrier for businesses to switch from one operator to another.