Sri Lanka’s Etisalat has been making waves in the broadband space. First it was the App Zone. Then an Android Forum that attracted 2000 applicants. Then the cheapest smartphones in the market, that resulted in 500 sales in two days. Here is the thinking behind all this:
Fixed broadband connectivity alone cannot provide the Internet needs of Sri Lanka. Mobile broadband must step up and provide for the country’s needs, according to Dumindra Ratnayaka, the Chief Executive of the local mobile unit of UAE-based telco Etisalat, in an exclusive interview with the Business Times. He also added there were only 250,000 fixed broadband subscribers to date, despite almost a decade of availability. However, in terms of mobile, there were already 12 million individual subscribers which was already a significant base of users to convert to mobile broadband. Also, 3G was best “beyond voice” as this technology’s adoption in the data industry has been very different than in voice. As such, he asserted that Etisalat would be “strongly moving on mobile broadband.”
Mr. Ratnayaka also noted that the biggest challenge for the Sri Lankan market was not investment, but devices (smartphones, tablet PCs, etc) being available, at the right price. He also revealed that it was only when mobile phones were offered at the right price that the local market exploded. Further suggesting that “in five years, smartphones will be everywhere,” he noted that a goal for Etisalat was making this happen much sooner, which was why another focus area for the mobile operator was bringing down the cost of devices.