Bharti Airtel may be re-drawing plans for Sri Lanka

Posted on February 26, 2008  /  19 Comments

Indo-Asian News Service (IANS)

Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, which had announced its entry into the Sri Lankan mobile phone sector with much fanfare last year, is experiencing delays and may well be re-drawing its investment plans for the island country, says a Sri Lankan telecommunication expert.

Rohan Samarajeewa, former head of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRC), told IANS that while there was no doubt that Bharti Airtel was committed to operating in Sri Lanka, it had altered its timetable and could well be scaling down its original investment plans.

The reasons for the delay in starting the operations were in the realm of speculation, Samarajeewa said. But he did point to a possibility of difficulties in getting frequencies from the TRC, as it is generally recognized that the allotment of frequencies tends to be “highly politicised” in Sri Lanka.

The parent company in India could also be changing its priorities as regards capital allocations, in the context of the growing challenges in the more lucrative Indian domestic market, Samarajeewa said.

“Even assuming that the mobile phone market in Sri Lanka is 10 million, it is still only the size of a metropolis in India. It is therefore possible that Bharti Airtel is looking at some of the Indian states with greater interest,” he said.

In 2007, Bharti Airtel had set up a Sri Lankan subsidiary, Bharti Airtel Lanka Pvt Ltd., got a license to provide 2G and 3G services in collaboration with China’s Huawei Technologies, announced an investment of $200 million and began to recruit a large staff. The services were to begin by 2007 end. This subsequently got postponed to early 2008. But, as yet, there are no signs of an early start.

“When it announced its entry, I expected Bharti Airtel to literally slaughter the existing players. But given the recent changes in the price structure here, and the intense competition in the field, the Indian company will have to be quite creative if it is to be more than just a minor player,” Samarajeewa said.

The market is small and crowded. The fixed line and mobile phone penetration in Sri Lanka is very high. Forty to 50 percent of the households in the island (excluding the war-affected north and east) have access to a phone. Out of a total population of 20 million, six million have mobile phones. With the recently announced price reductions, the user-base is expected to rise to 10 million, or half the total population of the country.

There are already four players in the field. Among them, Dialog Telekom, a unit of Telecom Malaysia, has been the leader, controlling 60 percent of the market. Dialog has enjoyed brand loyalty for a considerable length of time throughout Sri Lanka, and is, therefore, no pushover.

Bharti Airtel would have to come up with innovative packages to attract the bottom rungs of the socio-economic ladder, an area of rapid growth in the foreseeable future, Samarajeewa pointed out. While price will be of the highest importance for those in the bottom-end of the social scale, technical qualities will be a clincher among the upper strata of society.

Asked for the reasons for the delay in starting operations, Bharti Airtel Lanka’s CEO, Amali Nanayakkara, said her company had very stringent requirements in regard to the infrastructure and that it would not start operations until all the requirements were met.

But she denied that there were any difficulties in getting official clearances. The setting up of the network was also proceeding satisfactorily. The company was “very happy” with the cooperation of the Sri Lankan authorities, and the pace of the work was also “very good”, Nanayakkara told IANS.

As for the price factor, she said that it was nothing new. “It was there right from the time we came here,” she said.

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  1. hi,I’m deshal peiris 21 years old sri lankan boy. currently working in reputed callcenter in sri lanka and I’m glad to join airtel if there is any vacancies available.pls contact me or send me your e-mail address so I will send you my CV as soon as mibile no is 0722467130.pls contact me if there is any vacancies in airtel in sri lanka.I would love to join airtel.
    thanking you
    Deshal peiris.

  2. I don’t think they’ll leave.. after making this amount of huge investment in Sri Lanka. They have already started developing their infrastructure!!!

  3. Denzil Priyadarshana

    Hellow,I’m Denzil Priyadarshana From Sri lanka, currently I am Group Company Director in Udawatta Group Of Company Limited in sri lanka and I’m glad to give our New 8th floor building for airtel Signal towers for lounched New Network In Srilanka Fist Time , if there you like .pls contact me or send me your e-mail address .my mobile no is 0094-77-3332127 or 0094-71-7332127 My Email Address contact me
    Thank you Very Much
    Wish You All The Best For Air Tel Chairman And Staff
    Denzil Priyadarshana.

  4. Here we go again. This is not Bharti Airtel. Please do not post job applications and real estate inquiries here.

    For anyone from Bharti checking this site: Please set up your own site where people can submit their job applications. We will have to shut down comments if we continue to be inundated by comments and phone calls.

  5. manjula irugalbandara

    I’m manjula sampath,civil engineer and have 15 months experience in construction field in sri lanka. if there is any vacancies available.pls contact me or send me your e-mail address so I will send you my cv.i like to join to airtel

  6. Cant wait till I own an Airtel Service. Out of Curiosity I’m asking Airtel, when they will kick off their service here in Sri Lanka. Better be quick than being late. Wish Airtel all Success!


  7. Charaka bandara wickramasinghe

    Hi airtel magic in sri lanka right???????Ok then i would like to tell airtell will do a new GSM success in sri lanka..Been a customer of airtel in india i know howmuch it is….
    Come on airtell we are with you

  8. hi ..I think Airtel will launch in Srilanka before September….I hope so …
    Hope u all will like airtel ….Airtel Crosses 65 million mark this month ….
    And i wish It will touch 100Million soon …..
    A old Customer of Airtel india

  9. come come..
    come airtel…
    hi please fist sim
    my tel:-0771106369

  10. M.Riyasdeen Silmy

    Hi Team!

    Currently im working for Multinational Money Transfer company and i love to join with Airtel please launch your service ASAP bcoz the sri lankans are awaiting to get the service from a best service provider.

    * Hope you will get us a great oppertunity to joi the team!

    M.R. Silmy
    0714 325178

  11. hi,I’m Karunakaran Tharshan 26 years old sri lankan boy. currently working at Dialog Broadband Network (Pvt) Ltd in sri lanka and I’m glad to join airtel if there is any vacancies available.pls contact me or send me your e-mail address so I will send you my CV as soon as mibile no is 0777336361.pls contact me if there is any vacancies in airtel in sri lanka.I would love to join airtel.
    thanking you

  12. Hi,

    I m Vijitha Mathivathanan,I m 25 Yeras old Srilankan and have experience for 4 years in Finance . I would like to join wit airtel. i like to forward my Cv, Contact No is 0779782190

    Waiting for ur reply

  13. S.A.T. Seneviratne

    Hi, I am a Sri Lankan. Presently I work as the accountant at a South Asian Regional organization. If there are vacancies available I would like to join Airtel at the accounts division. Pls. contact me or send me your email address to enable me to forward my CV.

  14. So when did Lirneasia become a job market? Is this an official expansion of the Lirneasia portfolio?

  15. For reasons we cannot fathom, two posts related to Bhatri Airtel has become too attractive to job seekers.

    Basic English knowledge and common sense are adequate to differentiate a news item from an advertisement and it is unfair to blame LIRNEasia for the actions of those who do not have both.

    Why we don’t remove these posts? Well, we think it will be useful for somebody – say Airtel HR – or anyone else for that matter – now know whom they shouldn’t employ. :-)

    But we have to block comments for the thread (which we rarely do) if this becomes a nuisance.

  16. Hi,
    I am Mubarak currently working as a medical representative for 2 years at SMM Halcyon pvt ltd. I would love to build relationships with customers and use my interpersonel skills in a broad way.
    I hope you will launch your service asap since Sri Lankans are so interested to get the best mobile connection service.
    If you have any vacancies please let me know and I will e mail or post my CV for your reference.

    Thank you,
    yours sincerely,
    Tuan Mubarak
    Contact no: 077 6214837

  17. Hi, I am Nirmala Fernando,I’m 25 Yeras old . Presently I work as the technical assistant and have experience for 4 years at a premier pacific international (pvt)Ltd. If there are vacancies available I would like to join Airtel. Pls. contact me or send me your email address to enable me to forward my CV.

  18. Ishara Dhanushka

    Hey,I’m Ishara Dhanushka(Sri Lankan), and 20 years old.I’m interest in job of your company(Bharathi Airtel) as I completed my O/L and A/L Examinations and I have some professional Qualification.I’m currently working in Billing section of Sri Lanka Telecom PLC-Avissawella as trainee.(customer handling through SLT Intranet system/other Network systems,Back office funtions.)
    If there are any vacancies in your company after commence your business, please inform me through bellow number..

    Phone No +94 726147602