Airtel invests $100m on network
Further $ 100 m to expand operations:
Sunil Bharti Mittal
Group Chief Executive officer Singtel Singapore, Chua Sock Koong
presents an Airtel connection to Chairman / Managing Director,
Hatton National Bank, Rienzie Wijetilike. Picture by Saliya
Bharti Airtel Lanka Limited has invested US $ 100 million to launch
its network in Sri Lanka. The company will infuse a further US $ 100
million to expand operations. Chairman and Managing Director, Airtel,
Sunil Bharti Mittal, told the launch at the Colombo Hilton that they
would also use Sri Lanka, to launch their 3G services in this part of
Sri Lanka’s mobile penetration is at 50 per cent and the Indian
Company, which is the third largest mobile operator in the world in
terms of serving the population, sees great potential in Sri Lanka.
He said that Sri Lankan expatriate workers remit around Rs. 1 billion
annually to Sri Lanka. “These are channelled through banks and we will
soon introduce a facility to provide this service to Sri Lanka via
Airtel,” he said. Airtel will launch this facility in India by the end
of this month.
He said that when one per cent on the mobile penetration increases it
has a major positive impact on the economy. Mittal said that with the
announcement that Airtel would be launching operations in Sri Lanka
there had been a sharp decline in tariffs by other mobile operators.
“This is nothing new for us as we have already created a storm. The low
tariffs will also contribute to economic prosperity,” he said.
He, however, noted that mobile tariffs in Sri Lanka are high in the
region. The average call charge is around Rs. 5 in Sri Lanka and in
India its half the price. Due to this, the average talk time in Sri
Lanka is around 120 minutes as against 460 minutes in India. “Our aim in
Sri Lanka is to offer the lowest call charges which would be as low as
Re, 1,” he said.
Mittal, also stressed that customers in Sri Lanka are confused by
several packages that are on offer. “We have also simplified this,” he
“We will be initially covering 60 per cent of Sri Lanka’s population
and thereafter cover the entire island soon,” he said. In India, Airtel
adds three million customers and 100 base stations every month.
The new CEO, Amali Nanakyakkara said that Airtel would be bringing
many ‘firsts’ to Sri Lanka which include totally incoming free from any
network. “In addition Airtel roaming tariffs would be 50 per cent
cheaper than other operators,” she said.
Airtel would also bring new technology in Value Added Services (VAS)
and also for entertainment and music. “These would be first for Sri
Lanka as well,” she said.
Group Chief Executive officer Singtel Singapore, Chua Sock Koong that
would be partnering Airtel, said that their international experience too
would be an advantage for local Airtel customers. Customers would be
able to have 200 roaming countries when they switch to Airtel.