Backward Integration

Apr.05 (LBO) — Cellular operator Mobitel (Pvt) Ltd hopes to double subscriber growth and plans to start test runs for third generation network next month, its chief executive said Wednesday. A fully owned subsidiary of Sri Lanka Telecom, the island’s largest fixed-line operator, Mobitel is on target to complete their US$ 140 to 150 million GSM expansion plan this year.

“With the network in place, we want to double subscriber growth to a million customers during this financial year, from the 500,000 subscribers we have now,” CEO Suren Amarasekera told reporters.

The expansion drive will also raise the number of base stations to 675 from the present 420, enabling Mobitel to cover nearly 90 percent of the populated areas of the island.

The firm has limited presence in the island’s war ravaged Northern and Eastern districts, but expansion there has been shelved until peace moves that began in February, stabilise.

However, much of Mobitel’s recent growth has come from subscribers buying pay-as-you-go cards or pre-paid cards.

The firm has now tied up with the Sri Lanka Postal Department to sell pre-paid cards and settle customer bills.

The deal gives Mobitel access