Aug 06, 2018

3 private mobile service providers in serious setback

The private mobile service providers Etisalat, Airtel and Hutch are all in a serious setback, reports say.

Of them, Etisalat has been the worst affected, being even unable to guarantee the job security of its employees.

Economists cite the state’s decision-making powers, together with its ownership of Sri Lanka Telecom and Mobitel, as the main reason for the present plight of the private service providers.

Another reason is that Bharati Airtel being allowed by the previous regime to operate in Sri Lanka.

Policy of the state blamed

Attempts by the three private service providers to sell off, access network sharing and national roaming, acquisition or a merger have failed.

Their plight has been worsened by the state’s intervention in regulating service charges since 2009.

Mobitel has prevented a revision of the charges.

A lack of competition in charges for VAS and data services, unregulated by the state, is another reason.

Due to having to pay electricity bills, state taxes, depreciation of the rupee have all forced them to reduce the quality of service and curtail benefits to their employees.

An attempt by Mobitel to takeover Hutch, combined operations by Airtel-Dialog, Hutch-Etisalat and the Hutch 4G LTE communication equipment clearance matter have not helped their plight either.

Since private telecommunication came into being in the late 1980s and up to 2008, one state entity and three private providers operated without much trouble.

Trouble began after Bharati Airtel started operations here.

From then on, incoming calls charges were annulled and outgoing call charges were brought down from between Rs. 5.00 and Rs. 7.00 to Rs. 2.50.