Cash Cow

June 7, 2006 (LBO) – Private fixed line operators are among the few trying to lay their hands on the fifth mobile phone license which has come up for grabs in Sri Lanka, industry sources said. Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) Monday invited local and foreign companies with experience in third generation technology to set up operations with a license fee fixed at 4-million dollars.

While the offer is open till June 30, the two private wireless local loop operators and a few foreign parties have shown interest in taking up the slot, in what is now a four-horse race dominated by two-players.

Wireless local loop operators have seen sales soaring through the roof, when the telecom regulator last March allowed them to offer cheaper services using a technology known as CDMA or Code Division Multiple Access.

CDMA is usually used for quicker mobile connections but in Sri Lanka, the telecom regulator limited its use to provide fixed-line access so that telecommunication is available at affordable prices even in the most far flung regions.

“It’s a small technical change and we can use CDMA to offer mobile services,” says Lanka Bell’s CEO Suren Goonewardene, w