Financial Times

Mobile tariff war hots up
By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

With the tariff war hotting up in anticipation of the fifth operator – Bharti Airtel launching in December -, mobile firms are tightening their belts with some going as far as cutting their ad-spends. The existing four operators have come together to take on Airtel which has accused them of unfair competitive practices, a charge they vehemently deny.

"Presently the industry is in turmoil over many issues, like cost margins, revenue margins and the cut throat competition. Amidst all this a tariff war has flared up, forcing the mobile operators to cut costs," an industry analyst said. He said Airtel's impending launch has also more than alerted the existing operators (Dialog, Mobitel, Tigo and Hutch) intensifying their hurry to gain revenue before December (which is when Airtel intends to launch).

"The firms are seeing their costs escalating and their revenue per unit down. All this and Airtel has not even launched as yet," he said, adding that market leader, Dialog's share price crash over the past few months has not helped either. "Some mobile companies have taken a decision to slash their ad-spends, amongst other controls," he said.

However, this will in the end benefit the consumer who is likely to get a better deal with competitive packages. "The ultimate winners are the consumers," the industry analyst said. A Telecom Regulatory Commission (TRC) official said Airtel will launch servies in first week December.

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