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Airtel Launches Sri Lanka Ops; VAS & 3G Services, Free Sim Cards

airtel

airtelBharti Airtel has announced the launch of its Sri Lanka operations: via its subsidiary Bharti Airtel Lanka Pvt Ltd, Airtel is offering 2.5G and 3.5G services (HSPA). The services that have been launched are, predictably, GSM. The company will be investing around $200 million in its Sri Lanka operations.

Click here to download Airtel’s Sri Lanka Licence. Airtel Sri Lanka Licence

Tariff Plans
What is interesting about the launch are the changes they claim to have made to standard tariff offerings in Sri Lanka – things that we here in India tend to take for granted:
— Same tariffs for peak and off-peak hours (i.e. doing away with the concept altogether)
— Unconditional free incoming calls
— Uniform call charges to any network

The company is also leveraging its network in India by offering 50% lower rates while roaming in India. Airtels network has been rolled out in Lanka over a period of a year – they have a three-year managed network deal with Huawei, partnered with IBM to manage its comprehensive IT infrastructure and application requirements, and selected iSmart Timex as its customer care partner.

Free Sim Card

Airtel took out ads in Sri Lanka offering Free Sim Cards between January 12 and 25; the connection gets activated on a recharge of Rs. 100. There have, apparently, been long queues outside Airtel’s office at Narahenpita, Colombo. So a price war is beginning in Sri Lanka now – More here.

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 VAS Services

Airtel’s Sri Lanka site appears to be a work in progress, but we gleaned the following from the site:

— I-Moved is a service which allows users that have signed up for Airtel services to inform others.
— RingBack Tones: while no specific VAS company has been mentioned on the site, a statement on their site “BTSL will provide the backend pages for this and we need “Airtel Ring back Tune Search” as a button to click.” indicates that Bharti Telesoft may be powering CRBT for Airtel Lanka
— SMS services – the usual: News, Jokes, Astrology, Lottery Results, Sports, Health and Stock Markets.
— Voice SMS
— Voice Mail

3G Services
— Video Media Portal:  dial 7561 as a Video call for the video portal
— 3G Broadband (mobile phone access)
— Phone Backup Service
— 3G Data Services (USB/Router based)

Why Enter Sri Lanka?

The Teledensity in Sri Lanka appears to be quite high at 61.3%, with 45.7 mobile phones per 100 people and  9,253,067 subscribers. There are already4 other mobile operators in Sri Lanka, and the country has 3G: 

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Dialog 
Mobitel (Sri Lanka Telecom)
Hutch
Tigo

Some market stats (Q2 2008):

Total Telecom subscribers (Fixed+Mobile): 12,399,024
Total Teledensity (Fixed & Cellular): 61.3%
Fixed Line Phones: 3,145,957
Fixed Line Teledensity: 15.5%, 36.4% in Colombo District
Cellular Mobile Subscribers: 9,253,067
Mobile Phones per 100 people: 45.7
Internet & Email Subscribers: 215,000

Download the quarterly Sri Lanka telecom report from the regulator Telecom Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka

Written By

Founder @ MediaNama. TED Fellow. Asia21 Fellow @ Asia Society. Co-founder SaveTheInternet.in and Internet Freedom Foundation. Advisory board @ CyberBRICS

MediaNama’s mission is to help build a digital ecosystem which is open, fair, global and competitive.

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