New Day

March 11, 2008 (LBO) – Bharti Airtel Lanka, a subsidiary of India’s Bharti Airtel, said it had pushed back the launch of its mobile service in Sri Lanka to September this year from an original target of March. The firm Tuesday signed a deal with the investment promotion agency, Board of Investment, to spend half its planned $200mn investment in the island to set up a network of transmission towers.

Investment promotion minister Sarath Amunugama said at the signing ceremony that Bharti had faced difficulties in getting approvals for its towers from local authorities and sharing towers with other operators.

Company officials present at the ceremony declined to give specific reasons for the delayed launch.

Amali Nanayakkara, chief executive of Bharti Airtel Lanka, said they want to launch their mobile phone operation only when they were sure they had the right infrastructure to give customers the desired quality of service.

She said they had not faced any rejections from the authorities or rival operators.

“Sharing towers is a new concept for existing operators. It also depends on whether space is available and their own expansion plans.”

She said the firm was willing to share the

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