June 28, 2013 (LBO) – Sri Lanka’s mobile subscriber base has started to shrink, falling by almost a million subscribers in the first quarter of 2013, the first time since the industry began its explosive growth in 1992, data from the regulator showed. Total mobile subscribers fell 988,337 to 19,335,733 in the March 2013 quarter from December, in an island which has a population of about 20 million people, indicating that large number were users with more than one SIM or subscriber identity module.
Sri Lanka’s explosive mobile sector growth began in 1992, when Celltell, a unit of Millicom International Cellular – now Etisalat Sri Lanka – launched South Asia’s first mobile service, ending a state monopoly in telecoms.
Mobile subscribers grew, despite high tariffs, with waiting lists of more than 10 years at the state run incumbent.
Competition came when Australia’s Telstra launched a second service as a joint venture with state-run Sri Lanka Telecom.
Dialog came in third with digital GSM technology quickly overtaking its analogue competitors.
Fixed access users also fell 3,449,391 to 2,832,464 a trend that first began in 2008, when fixed access users peaked at 3,446,411, data released by the telecom regulatory authority showed.