Financial Times

Mobile industry settles dispute with Airtel

By Duruthu Edirimuni Chandrasekera

The fight between the four mobile operators and the fifth operator Bharti Airtel Lanka (Airtel) regarding the Interconnection Charge (IC) has been settled with the parties deciding not to implement the IC, according to a senior Telecommunication Regulatory Authority (TRC) Official.

"The International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Consultant in his report had suggested the IC to be at Rs. 1, but all operators, decided to operate on 'sender keeps all' basis where they will incur those charges onto their network," the official told The Sunday Times FT. The interconnect rules of 2003 by the TRC contain an Interconnect rate of Rs 1.50 per minute at peak time trailing to 38 cents during the discount time band. IC is specified to ensure fair compensation for the use of the terminating (receiving party) network infrastructure by the network originating the call. The rate applies in both directions and hence represents parity and fair bilateral compensation.

The four mobile operators, in a joint statement some months ago, dismissed as ‘misleading and distracting’ comments by Airtel that the existing mobile operators were being anti competitive.
Airtel will launch by mid – December, when the company completes building its tower network, the official said, adding: "Airtel has still not sent their tariff rates for approval, but they will by about next week.".

Telecom growth in Sri Lanka is at 30 % and mobile penetration at 44 %. The Airtel launch will see a 50 % penetration in mobile telephony, according to TRC statistics.

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