Pushing North

Mar. 08 (AFP) – Sri Lankan mobile phone company Celltel Wednesday announced plans to invest 100 million dollars to bring services to the island’s embattled northeast, but not in areas controlled by Tamil rebels.

-Amal Jayasinghe: win98win@gmail.com 

Celltel, which launched an analogue network in 1989 to become the first phone company in South Asia to go cellular, said they will add 500 new base stations in the north and east such Jaffna within three months.

The service however will not reach the northeastern town of Kilinochchi, controlled by the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam who have waged a separatist conflict since 1972 that has claimed more than 60,000 lives.

Celltel Chief Executive Officer Dumindra Ratnayake said he expected a 50 percent increase in their subscriber base with the latest expansion that would cost them 100 million dollars this year.

“With this latest investment, our total investment in the country would be about 200 million dollars,” Ratnayake said.

He said by the end of 2005 there were about three million mobile phone users in the country which has four cellular networks that keep prices low to attract subscrib