Ring Cut

COLOMBO, Feb 24, 2007 (AFP) – Working mother Kumari Ranasinghe looks forward every day to a telephone call from someone who hangs up on her immediately — her 12-year-old son who is making the call to let her know he has left school. “It’s also a disaster when the networks are busy and you can’t get through to leave a missed call.” It’s a supremely cost-effective method of keeping in touch that has swept Sri Lanka where daily bloodshed, despite a truce in the civil war, has many people living in fear for their lives and those of loved ones.

“Two beeps (rings) on my mobile after an hour, I know he has got home safely,” says 37-year-old Ranasinghe who works as a secretary in the jittery capital where security is tight amid fears of Tamil rebel bomb attacks.

Mother and son are part of the new “ring cut” generation that has spread across Sri Lanka and other Asian countries.

A growing number of mobile phone owners use “missed calls” to communicate without answering incoming calls, according to telecom researchers here.

The island nation of 19 million has more than five million mobile phone subscribers with the majority using pre-paid subscriptions.

Call rates of 5.00 rupees (0.05 U.S. cents) per minute are too exp