Sri Lanka Mobile Broadband Advertising: Dialog takes a U turn; et tu Mobitel?

Posted on January 24, 2009  /  57 Comments

Broadband users in Sri Lanka are lucky – in a way. There is a battalion of Sinhala/English bloggers to keep vigil on the quality of service experience. This time the credit goes to Rukshan Kothwala. As the fresh engineering undergraduate from Peradeniya University notes in his blog, Dialog has started advertising its unlimited 3G based mobile broadband package as 1 Mbps, not 7.2 Mbps as was done earlier.


Experience better quality of Mobile broadband, says Dialog’s banner but do not bet too much on it. Once a user exceeds the limit of 5 GB in this ‘UNLIMITED’ package, the speeds are dropped to 384/64 kbps. If you think that is bad wait till you hear what happens next. Do whatever you want, but not cross 6 GB. Then your will be in narrowband 64kbps/16 kbps. This would be no better than the good ole dial-up. Want more? Pay more, not for the bytes consumed, but for the number of days the facility is made available – even if you download nothing. Surely Dialog has given a brave new definition to the word ‘UNLIMITED’. Do we hear anyone mutter ‘ethical advertising’?

For some time, LIRNEasia has been raising issues on broadband quality – not just in Sri Lanka but in many other countries where we routinely test the performance – but we do not jump to take exclusive credit for this U-Turn by Dialog; not after seeing the heated debates in Dialog Blogs.

This is the reality: The image below compares the speed of two mobile broadband packages Dialog (advertised 3.6Mbps) vs. Mobitel (1 Mbps) as testes by AT-Tester. Lower right hand figure gives the bottom-line. For any international sites the speed available is around 20% of advertised – irrespective of the time of the day or the operator.


And, here is a selection from the Sri Lankan blogsphere:


  1. Please double click on the images for a better view

  2. First of all, I must say “Thank you chanuka” for posting about my self and sinhalablog. I think this is a good turn from these companies. Finally they accepted customers complains. Actually there was a big discussion about HSDPA connection among Bloggers in Sri Lanka. Marketing tricks are not in reality. That report also gave a best analytic test to compare both connections.

  3. Yeah, I’ve seen that. They’ve changed it to 1Mbps, without even notifying their customers. We were promised 7.2Mbps but now 1Mbps!!! Funny.. funky… cheaters….!

  4. Should we not encourage companies to be truthful in their advertising? All these claims about 14+ Mbps and 7+ Mbps are patently false.

    What would you prefer: high advertised speeds that no one gets, or more reasonable claims?

  5. I think the issue Mayooresan raises is the possibility of some users purchasing this package (and not another at the same actual speed at a lower price) misled by incorrect advertising.

    A user does a significant initial investment (modem. connection) for a package, so shifting is not that easy.

    Dialog’s honesty (even belated) is appreciated but I am not sure those who purchased the package are complacent.

  6. @Chanuka
    I found that my connection is going beyond 1Mbps. I think they are offering same speed for old customers and new customers are entitled for 1Mbps.

    e.g. Today I reached 220KBps (220*8= 1.76 Mbps)

    If they do so, thatz fair

  7. Thanks rukshan for your watchfulness about these humiliating attempts made by these Broadband companies for their sake….You are doing a great job bye
    keeping a vigilant eye on them….thanks

  8. Thanks a lot for adding my self and about a blog post from Sinhalablog here.

  9. Yes this is a turn back from ISP’s, specially from HSDPA providers. I think they had to think it before.

  10. @Mayooresan,

    I assume you check the speed from ‘Mobile Partner’. It gives the speed varying with time so the maximum speed no necessarily indicates the max you can reach. You need to average.

    Anyway, we have not tested a “7.2 Mbps” package in our last round (Don’t think it was there that time) so cannot comment.

  11. Mobitel’s advertising far ahead that of Dialog. Dialog always mislead customers from both communication point of view and along with hidden costs as well. In addition so many billing errors as well. Dialog never had a good perception on this inside the local market. Dialog’s popularity is at decline with negative perception built around.

    7.2mbps Super High Speed UNLIMITED HSDPA package is yet another unsuccessful attempt from Dialog to mislead customers. They have proven now it by modifying the rate to 1mbps. Still it is not the truth. You hardly get even that much speed from Dialog. Not only speed, their ‘UNLIMITED’ word itself misleading. They just give 5GB of data claiming that’s unlimited. They don’t limit data (but the Speed).

    We highly appreciate Mobitel’s communication strategy where they are doing it with a high degree of reliability. They never claim 7.2mbps (but they say UPTO 3.6mbps, which is exactly correct). They never give UNLIMITED, but they give a free bundle of data with a reasonable excess usage charge. They really maintain a network with better quality for broadband and has set a good example to all other dirty players.

    Long live M3….!!!

    1. Our view is that all mobile operators are engaging in hype. Mobitel advertises 14.2 Mbps? And have you actually got 3.6 Mbps from them? Upto means that at some point someone must get 3.6. UPTO is a weasel word. It is accurate even if all they give is 1 Kbps.

      Tell us if you have experienced 3.6 Mbps. We are working on improving advertising and QOS in broadband and it would be helpful to know under what conditions people can get 3.6 Mbps.




  12. “Unlimited” term is a critical factor for any ISP. In dialog HSDPA they say 7.2 Mbps unlimited one in advertising, after 6 GB usage it comes to 64 Kbps, so that’s a too low value speed compared with 7.2 Mbps.
    Mr Rohan, what are the rules in sri lanka for this?

  13. Dear Prof,

    Really appreciate your comment. But i have some concerns.

    Mobitel does not have any broadband package above 3.6mbps speed. They have one package with 3.6mbps and all other packages are set to 1mpbs.They say you can go UPTO 3.6mbps, which means you will not be LIMITED to 500kbps or 1mbps. Please don’t misinterpret in a way that ‘eIt is accurate even if all they give is 1 Kbps”. Because it gives only the Upper limit. You should be satisfied even if you get half of the maximum speed, as sharing is the inherent nature of HSPA. At least Mobitel has advertised it properly than Dialog (because 7.2mbps is IMPOSSIBLE eventhough 3.6mbps is somewhat achievable).

    I have experience with both Dialog and Mobitel broadband. Mobitel’s all 1mbps packages provide reasonably closer speed to over 700-800kbps majority of the time. If you want more than 1mbps speed, you have to select 3.6mbps package, where you get average over 1.5mbps which is reasonable (compared to Dialog’s 7.2mbps package which was unable to provide at least 500kbps).

    For more evidence with the feedback from local hspa users please visit:

    Anyway at least now Dialog has realized they are not getting customers and the effects of devceiving customers. That’s exactly why they revised the speed (but they don’t shout now as they did with 7.2mbps speed, typical Dialog way).

    I say M3 is the best comparative to Dialog (we don’t know how Airtel yet). It is evident with all these facts. I never mean that you can go reach 3.6mbps speed 24 over 7 with Mobitel. But it is far better than Dialog from both technology and communication.


  14. @Nalaka,

    ‘Upto’ is a tricky term used by many broadband providers. If not that, what we take as the advertised speed? (Particularly when packages are branded based on that)

    Mobitel advertises for packages 3.6 Mbps and 7.2 Mbps or at least they did in Aug 2008. Let me reproduce the relevant part of their quote to LIRNEasia below.

    Mobile Broadband packages, Aug 2008

    Just to show Dialog is not the only operator that offers ‘high-speed’ packages.

  15. @Chanuka,

    I am referring to the current context. Here is the link to M3 Current packages.

    One thing clear is that, no argument against Mobitel’s superior speed over Dialog. It is evident that Dialog failed to provide not even the advertised speed, but also a reasonable speed to keep customers satisfied. A significant churn is currently observed from Dialog to Mobitel (Refer Kalinga’s blog post)

    By the way, Does anybody know that whether Dialog rebated their existing customers with this speed cut?

    They were offering the package for 2990LKR with 7.2mbps & 5GB data bundle. Now speed has dropped by 7 times (from 7.2 to 1mbps).

    Have they reduced the price at least by 1cent ????

    Have they rebated the existing customers ???

    Is there any guarantee that they will be able to provide 1mbps in future ?
    Sometimes they may cut the speed 512kbps or 256kbps in future if they unable to provide this 1mbps. Can anybody say “No, they won’t ”

    That’s my point, regarding the way Dialog mislead or deceive customers.

  16. @Nalaka,

    You are wrong again. See the graphs in the original post and see how Dialog (Package = Rs. 1,000 per month) outperformed Mobitel.(Rs. 1,500)

    We talk with data not perceptions.

    BTW, I use Mobitel. (even right now)

  17. @Chanuka,

    Do you think that you are absolutely correct to say “See the graphs in the original post and see how Dialog (Package = Rs. 1,000 per month) outperformed Mobitel.(Rs. 1,500)”

    What is the quality of this test ?
    How many repeated tests have you done ?
    How long did you measure the speeds ?
    Is it 24 over 7 over how many months ?

    It is virtually impossible to do a single or multiple speed test and conclude the quality of a particular service provider. That’s where the perceptions make some sense. The best example is this blog post where is says the entire story with the time line about the nature of these two service providers.

    i have experience with both Dialog and Mobitel (currently i m on M3). In my view, Quality of a service provider is not a single measure of ‘the speed at a particular point/s of time’. Should consider so many factors including their communication, customer service and their integrity as well. Still i can say Dialog played dirty in this market and now they suffer because of that.

  18. Dialog still gives the great Speed. Speed always depend on the coverage.

  19. @Nalaka,

    Experiment is the scientific approach. If someone still keeps faith on perceptions I have nothing but sympathy. Hadn’t Galileo dropped those iron balls from the tower of Pisa the world would have continued to believe heavier objects fall faster.

    The blog post you repeatedly mention does no scientific comparison.

    See under our Broadband Benchmarking projects here and for more info on our approach.

    BTW, who said, for those who believe no evidence is necessary, and for those who don’t, no evidence is enough?

    We are neither. That is why we experiment.

  20. We saw Mobitel dropped their prices when they revise the speeds and come up with new packages. Best example is their Zoom7200 package speed of 7.2mbpsand which was priced at Rs.15000 with 15GB. When they revise the packages in last December they came up with Zoom 2490 speed of 3.6mbps (half of the Zoom7200) data of 7GB (half of Zoom7200) priced at Rs.2490 (6 times lower than Zoom7200). The price drop was significant with the speed drop.

    Why Dialog doesn’t drop the price with the speed drop from 7.2Mbps to 1Mbps ?

  21. Here is one example of Dialog’s acts.
    I settled all the outstanding bills and asked them to discontinue the internet service which they provided to me in 2003. And they discontinued the internet service. And all went smooth.
    After 4 years in 2007 I got a notice from them stating that I have to pay some money which is in balance for the internet service and if i am not paying it that they will take legal action to get the money back. (These all because i have signed a contract with them, which are in small font with light blue ink on a rose colored thin paper.)
    So from that day I decided not to get any service from them.

    If you are terminating any service with them get a paper signed by them that you don’t have any due balance to that company.And they can’t claim any money in the future. Other wise you may have trouble with them. I swear this is true and happened to me.



  22. Dialog never wanted to be honest. They just couldn’t bear up user complaints. Anyway they sold the package promising 7Mbps speed. They couldn’t ever make that and after user comments they had to advertise the right speed. As some users complain, dialog customer care people have said that 1Mbps advertising is a mistake. Dialog is always cheating customers.

    OK a company can advertise anyway they want. But isn’t there any authority who can act against those effing companies & protect customer rights?. Even if there is they shouldn’t actually function. Because this is Sri Lanka, the land like no other :P

  23. Mobile broadband is always always expensive and 100% of the time associated with a data cap (5GB for dialog). Even the foreign countries have data caps for mobile broadbands and in UK it could vary anywhere between 3-15GB. For ADSL, most broadband companies used to offer unlimited packages and the trend had been to shift the customers from unlimited packages to packages with caps (30-60GB per month) when they renew their agreement annually. Handful of companies that offer unlimited service, strictly shape the bandwidth to throttle P2P traffic. The other interesthing to note is that every single ISP in UK throttle their bandwidth during peaktimes (evening times and during week ends) and the speed could drop to around 1/5 th of advertised speed.


    But one thing is for sure, surely the ISPs cant getaway by twisting their own words in the UK. OFCOM (the regulator in UK, similar to TRC in SL) keeps a close watch and occasionaly slpaps them on the wrist if needed. Whilst I personally beleive advertising is benificial to spread the message, we should shackle the ISPs not letting then get away with promising the sun and the moon, but delivering nothing.

  24. DIALOG advertised it as 7.2Mbps not 3.2Mbp. And what they actually gave was around 10%. So when you exceed 5GB its actual speed is around 40Kbps(mind you that even a dialup gets 56Kbps) So after 5GB it was a dialup. Here is some new writings about Dialog HSPA experience.

  25. Hey gays
    whatever some gays say…Mobitel is the best ISP in mobile broadband industry in sri lanka…If u want to check it buy two modems from dialog and mobitel and get the same Speed packages..Then try it…U will feel what is the best for internet.wherever u use those connection u can get the real speed from mobitel with comparing dilog…Because dialog uses 3G for their broadband services..but mobitel use the 3.5G for that……Just try u will feel the defference… mobitel not yet introduse a unlimited pkg…can u guess why…yes u correct still there is no competition to mobitel with others……


  26. This is a good trend other ISPs to follow too.

  27. To me this post is really bullshit. Rukshan has written the post after the Dialog change their advertising to 1Mbps, in fact the blog post was written about “changing the 7.2Mbps to 1Mbps”‘. can you explain us your so called “scientific approach ” :D Is it like this?

    @ Rukshan
    Dont be dumb open your eyes and see.

  28. i used DB unlimited univercity package since last octomber.ya dats right they didnt give dat much of speed as they it was enough me to see films online up to 5GB.Sometimes i got over 500kbps speed when downloading.MOST IMPORTENT THING IS FROM FEBRUARY DIALOG DIDNT SLOW DOWN THE SPEED AFTER WE REACH 5 GB.NOW I ALMOST DOWNLOADED ATLEAST 10GB DATA.BT STILL I CAN SEE FILMS ONLINE WITHOUT ANY PROBLEMS.CHECK THIS.I DIDNT PAY 100 PER DAY ALSO.THIS IS FROM FEBRUARY 2009

  29. Is this 1Mbps? I think we should do something about this

  30. Chanuka Wattegama


    It is not fair to hold a local ISP responsible for specified and fixed throughput to any server. (Your example is a server in Mumbai) An ISP is responsible only for certain segments. Our Feb 2009 test results shows Dialog 3G delivers 1 Mbps (within acceptable limits) for those segments. See

  31. Chanuka is trying hard to whitewash dialog broadband over M3 based on the fact that your speed test results prove that is so. Lets keep the speed aside for a moment.

    What about other issues related to dialog ?
    If you carefully go through this blog post & all other links, you will find several arguments ‘against’ Dialog, but none ‘For’ Dialog except for Chanuka’s speed results.

    I don’t know Why….

    1. No one is trying to whitewash anyone. We’re trying to develop a good instrument to measure quality of service experience. I think it will help you with your debates to have some evidence. Simply batting around accusations and counter-accusations may be fun, but it doesn’t get one far.

      Try looking at the evidence: Tell us how to improve its quality.

  32. @Pissek,

    We talk two different things. What you refer is Quality of Experience (QoE). What we talk about is QoS or as we term it, QoSE.

    This is the difference (according to Wikipedia):


    Quality of Experience (QoE), sometimes also known as “Quality of User Experience,” is a subjective measure of a customer’s experiences with a vendor. It looks at a vendor’s or purveyor’s offering from the standpoint of the customer or end user, and asks, “What mix of goods, services, and support, do you think will provide you with the perception that the total product is providing you with the experience you desired and/or expected?” It then asks, “Is this what the vendor/purveyor has actually provided?” If not, “What changes need to be made to enhance your total experience?”

    It is related to but differs from Quality of Service (QoS), which attempts to objectively measure the service delivered by the vendor. It is tied closely to the black and white of a contract and measures how well the vendor lives up to its end of the bargain.


    The user dissatisfaction articulated in blogs etc is QoE. (Anyway, I am not sure how representative the sample is) That has to do so many things additional like poor marketing/advertising, answering or not answering customer calls, ignoring customers etc. which cannot be quantified. It is always a subjective measure.

    On the other hand, our approach solely is based on what can be captured quantitatively. We do not survey users for their perception about vendors. In some countries they do. Not that we say it wrong, but that is not what we do.

    So just because QoSE is high for Dialog it not necessarily mean QoE is high.

  33. @ Moderator; please delete my first post. This is the correct version. Thanks

    Chanuka Wattegama
    January 30, 2009 at 2:03 pm
    “..Experiment is the scientific approach. If someone still keeps faith on perceptions I have nothing but sympathy. Hadn’t Galileo dropped those iron balls from the tower of Pisa the world would have continued to believe heavier objects fall faster..”

    Chanuka Wattegama
    March 10, 2009 at 6:21 pm
    “..On the other hand, our approach solely is based on what can be captured quantitatively. We do not survey users for their perception about vendors. In some countries they do. Not that we say it wrong, but that is not what we do….”

    It seems two comments are contradictory. In the first one you are against customers’ perceptions about the vendor. In the second one you say customer perception is another method but not wrong. Can you explain ?

    What i personally believe is at the end of the day customer has to suffer. You say Dialog’s QoS is higher but QoE is lower. Don’t you see any link between these two measures ? Aren’t they correlated ? If there is a correlation what you are saying is contradictory. Isn’t it ?

  34. @Neutral,

    I never said QoE of Dialog is low. Nobody has studied it. All we have are blog comments. I will not jump to treat that tiny non-representative sample of blog community too seriously. I just pointed out the difference between the two approaches. One is highly subjective; the other objective. My choice is the latter. No contradiction.

  35. first of all, i think you’r given credit to the wrong person since i have been following


    way before the other blogs came in to play, the comment them self on Kalingablog shows that!

    also i agree with Pissek, Chanuka and other are trying hard to clear dialog name, maybe due to the fact Prof. Samaranayak’s son work @ Dialog ! and one who is doing the

    the speedtest tool ( your taking about, its a peace of crap, it don’t even work !

  36. Agree with Wick.
    In addition, Liernasia’s study ( was conducted just after Dialog has advertised 1Mbps. It is misleading when you come to the graphs ‘Actual speed as % of stated’ figure 10 & 11. You have Intentionally forgotten that Dialog just replaced 1Mbps in their website, they kept on advertising 7.2Mbps for more than 6 months. And i haven’t seen any advertisement on 1Mbps after their amendment (except for that tiny note in Webpage). If Chanuka and the clan can do the same graph using Dialog’s 7.2Mbps advertised rate you will see where it lie.

    and why don’t you answer the issue raised above. I’ll just refresh it.

    ” We saw Mobitel dropped their prices when they revise the speeds and come up with new packages. Best example is their Zoom7200 package speed of 7.2mbpsand which was priced at Rs.15000 with 15GB. When they revise the packages in last December they came up with Zoom 2490 speed of 3.6mbps (half of the Zoom7200) data of 7GB (half of Zoom7200) priced at Rs.2490 (6 times lower than Zoom7200). The price drop was significant with the speed drop.

    Why Dialog doesn’t drop the price with the speed drop from 7.2Mbps to 1Mbps ? ”

    We can see that your QoE is far away from the QoE’s of other blog posting people (even within this post)

    One thing is very Clear. Chanuka is working hard to clean Dialog.

    Good luck…!!!

  37. recently i happened to buy a dialog broadband connection and even the modem itself indicates the signal strength of our area is satisfactory yet my new dialog connection is pathetically slow…
    recently i used mobitel one in same location which is my home and found relatively more speeder than the dialog one…

    i advice you to buy whatever the broadband you want but dialog bcoz not only they cheat us but grabbing our hardly earned money.

    whoever talks for dialog are representatives of the same and they’re paid by it…
    so dont trust’em…

  38. i need to know is srilanka has 7.2 mbps ???

  39. No ordinary customer can get 7.2 mbps download speed in Sri Lanka on fixed or mobile platforms.

  40. Hi,

    the new entrant Etisalat claims 21 mbps in its 3.75 G network. it seems to be “really realy fast”. Wonder any testing conforms such claims….

  41. Totally confused about 4G. Can somebody explain me whether the speeds are real? How did they increase the speeds so much when they find offering even 1 mbps difficult? If not are all of them cheating?

  42. also what is 3.57G? What is lacks from 4G?

  43. according to my understanding still the 4G is being tested. according to a statement made by the CEO of Dialog, they will commercially launch the service once the devices that could support those speeds are available and the need arises. I do not think any body needs a speed around 100 mbps in mobile technology; even if so that dongle that support such speeds will be very very expensive. if you want to watch buffering free you tube 3.6 mbps is more than enough and the dongles that are freely available in the market for Rs.3,000-4,000 do not support beyond 3.6 mbps.I do not care whether it is 3g or 3.5 or 3.75 g or 4g or LTE as long as i get buffering free you tube; but none of the operators doesnot support those speeds even though they claim so..

  44. Mobitel Broadband is the woarst broadband in sri lanka .
    They cheat customers at everytime
    Their actual speed at 7.00pm is 10KBps
    But ,they talking about 94Mbps in thesedays
    why Mobitel foolish guying are doing this kind of F****** things

    i hate mobitel broadband

  45. Lirneasia,

    Which network in Sri Lanka has the widest broadband coverage?

    1. Coverage would have to be defined. One could define it as broadest 3G coverage (the area within which one can use mobile broadband). I’d say it would be either Dialog or Mobitel at this stage, though Etisalat may be catching up. We do not have the data. So only guesses.

      Does coverage mean who has the most mobile broadband customers? My colleague Helani Galpaya may be able to name the company, but the data I have seen has not been disaggregated at operator level.

      Mobile broadband is where most customers are. However, if you mean fixed broadband, the answer is easy. It’s SLT.