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Sri Lanka's state minister of defence Ruwan Wijewardene (L) takes part in a press conference in Colombo on April 24, 2019. - A Sri Lankan security dragnet hunting those responsible for horrifying bombings that claimed more than 350 lives has scooped up a further 18 suspects, police said April 24, as pressure mounted on politicians to explain why no one acted on intelligence warnings. (Photo by ISHARA S. KODIKARA / AFP) (Photo credit should read ISHARA S. KODIKARA/AFP/Getty Images)

May 22, 2007 (LBO) — Sri Lanka plans to allow third parties to operate payphone booths in an attempt to popularise them in far flung areas outside the city of Colombo, a top official said.

The island’s eight public switched telephone network (PSTN) operators will now be allowed to appoint a third party to operate and maintain a public phone booth on a revenue sharing model.

“Its a scheme similar to selling lottery tickets, where the lottery operator does not undertake the burden of running, maintaining and collecting the money,” the head of Sri Lanka’s telecom watchdog, Kanchana Ratwatte said.

Payphone services are currently offered by three operators who have more than 7,500 booths scattered islandwide serving over 1.8 million customers, according to Telecommunication Regulatory Commission figures.

Payphone booth locations usually closely mirrors fixed and mobile telephone distribution.

Over half the booths are based in Colombo, with at least 50 percent installed in the cash-rich Western Province, according to official figures.

Despite this concentration, it is common knowledge that some of the payphones in the rural areas give sig