Serious Contenders

June 30, 2006 (LBO) – More than ten foreign and local telecom operators shown interest in bidding for Sri Lanka’s fifth mobile operator’s licence, the island’s the telecom regulator said Friday. Bidders, which included those from Singapore, India and Malaysia, are keen to get a slot in the mobile phone market which grew over 50 percent to 3.34 million users by the end of 2005.

“The response has been good, with over ten companies showing interest in the license when the deadline closed today,” Telecommunications Regulatory Commission Director General, Kanchana Ratwatte told LBO.

Though Ratwatte declined to confirm, Malaysia’s cellular operator Maxis Communications, Singapore Telecommunications and India’s Reliance Infocom are believed to among the suitors.

“New licenses will be issued subject to clearance from the Defence Ministry with regards to issues like ownership, equipment and so forth,” he said.

Newcomers will have to pay four million dollars for the GSM1800 license, says Ratwatte, adding the TRC will shortly announce the winning bid.

Telecommunications is one of the fastest growth sectors in this South Asian island of 19.5 million people and the Central Bank said