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May 27, 2009 (LBO) – Subscribers of Sri Lanka's Hutch, a unit of Hutchison had dropped 44 percent to 772,000 in the year to March 2009 amid steep price cuts and an entry of a fifth operator to the market.

Dialog, a unit of Telekom Malaysia and the island's dominant mobile phone operator, said its customers had grown 29 percent to 5.85 million in the year to March 2009 with 337,000 being added in the first quarter.

In the year to March 2009, Millicom International Cellular said its Sri Lanka subscribers grew 54 percent to 2,111,295.

Updated "Our Sri Lankan operation continued to suffer from the adverse economic condition and the market trend of tariff reduction," Hutchison Telecom said in a statement.

Hutchison said its customer base had fallen 18.6 percent from 887,000 in the March quarter compared to the previous quarter.

The yearly drop of 44 percent was partly due to a 229,000 cut in subscribers in the 2008 third quarter as the firm tightened its customer recognition policy.

Hutch said average revenue per user (ARPU) was down 9.8 percent to 148 rupees in March over the previous quarter. The yearly fall was 23.3 percent.

"The decrease in ARPU was mainly due to

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