Street Fight

Nov 23, 2008 (LBO) – Top Sri Lankan celcos are slashing prices ahead of the entry of a fifth operator to the market, in a street fight that analysts say is set to haemorrhage bottom lines of the entire sector. In the last quarter Mobitel, a unit of fixed access provider Sri Lanka Telecom, and Dialog Telekom, a unit of Telekom Malaysia, had been offering head to head tariff cuts.

Dialog, a public company which is market leader, slipped into the red in the third quarter of 2008. Mobitel’s accounts, which are consolidated with its parent, are not yet out.

Sri Lanka’s four operators, which include unlisted Millicom Cellular International unit Tigo and Hutchison’s Hutch, are defending their market share before the entry of India’s Bharti, which is expected to compete fiercely on price.

Talk Talk

Before the entry of Bharti, whose launch was originally set for early 2008, but has been delayed, Mobitel started its Upahara package targeting state workers and pensioners with free voice and video calls within the network and all fixed lines during off-peak.

Text messages within the network cost only 25 cents compared to a standard 2.0 rupees elsewhere.

The Upahara pac