Privately owned Lanka Bell is the first of the two wireless local loop networks to cross the 100,000 mark since the launch of its CDMA (Code Division Multiple Access) technology mid last year.
CDMA uses cellular technology to provide low cost fixed-line telecommunication access to far flung regions in the country.
Lanka Bell says it will accelerate rollout of its Rs. 5 bn CDMA network to sustain current growth levels and will go ahead with expansion into the North and East.
?We are already in Ampara and Trincomalee and plan to reach Vavuniya and other districts in the North and East this year,? Lanka Bell Chief Suren Goonewardene told LBO on Wednesday.
?The current unrest is a concern, but we have a commitment to serve the region and going there is a risk we are willing to take.?
A fragile two and half year ceasefire between the Sri Lankan government and Tamil rebels has been in shambles since mid November 2005, with daily casualty reports now a norm.
Meanwhile, Lanka Bell has already set up base stations in 21 districts, covering an estimated 70 percent of the populated regions across the island, Goonewardene said.
Goonewardene said only 20 percent of Lanka Bell?s customer base had opted for a pre-paid service, despite earlier projections for higher take up of the monthly rental free service.
Industry watchers with the launch of CDMA service here said, the pre-paid card option would be more popular with the low income urban and rural markets, similar to the trend seen in the mobile industry.
The monthly rental free packages offered by the mobile networks has seen over 90 percent of the customer base using pre-paid packages.
?Customers still feel that the postpaid packages are more economical and carry more benefits. It will take a while to change perceptions.?
Lanka Bell is 99.1 percent owned by business tycoon Harry Jayawardene?s Distilleries Group, since mid 2005.
Lanka Bell already had some 50,000 customers on its old network, which is still in operation, taking its total customer base to 150,000.
-Shafraz Farook: email@example.com