ISSN: 1391 - 0531
Sunday November 18, 2007
Vol. 42 - No 25
Financial Times  

CDMA phone shortages

By Bandula Sirimanna

Sri Lanka Telecom(SLT)’s CDMA service is currently facing a massive revenue loss owing to inefficiencies in billing and shortages of CDMA phones, a senior official of the SLT audit division told The Sunday Times FT.

CDMA phones were unavailable in the market despite sales promotions by SLT which paid Rs. 300 per employee to sell each CDMA unit under a circular issued recently by SLT CEO while suspending landphones from being issued which raised eyebrows of subscribers.

“The management granted approval to a number of vendors to sell these phones giving them a 15 percent commission,” the official said. This deal which was embroiled in corruption and malpractices has pushed the company into difficulties by giving vendors a free hand to sell CDMA phones without the identity of the customer and billing proof. SLT air freighted 5000 CDMA phones paying US$ 5 per unit as freight charges from time to time without bringing down the required amount by ship to meet the subscriber demand.

To make matters worse the SLT billing section failed to send bills to CDMA subscribers even after three months of granting connections.

Many subscribers had not paid bills with accumulated call charges resulting in a loss of revenue for SLT. Some subscribers had taken telephone calls worth thousands of rupees and got rid of their CDMA phones. A senior official of the Ministry of Posts and Telecommunications said their investigations revealed that unbilled amounts and default payments had exceeded millions of rupees.

A senior SLT engineer said promoting CDMA while depriving legitimate subscribers of land phones with free loops being available was a double-crossing policy.

In another development 100,000 CDMA connections were converted to land lines to keep with a directive issued by a senior official from the SLT CDMA promotion plan. SLT’s annual business plan targetted for 200,000 CDMA connections this year but the Chief Net work officer indicated that it was planned for three phases having a capacity of 150,000 customers in each phase.

A senior official of the SLT said three different targets were set by the top management of the company in the same business plan and with no one knowing the actual targets.

This was a clear indication of improper planning of operations in the company the engineer noted.


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