Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT)’s fixed line telephone service is having problems due to a shortage of cables and other equipment required to give new connections and to maintain the existing fixed telephone lines.
Some 95% of the loops in the Public Single Telephone Net work lines (PSTN) better known as fixed telephone lines have been completed and 90% of CDMA switches were in full use, SLT trade union leaders said. They said that the SLT has failed to purchase a single piece of cable and there are no drop wires for maintenance during the last few years. No ADSL ports are available anywhere in the island during the past few years. The SLT is taking over six months to procure a single item causing severe shortage of necessary stocks, they said.
No copper cable development project has been planned in SLT since 2001. According to the Annual Business Plan last year (2008) the forecast sale of Public Single Telephone Net work lines (PSTN) or fixed telephone lines was 65,000 but the company sold only 5000, trade union leaders said. In 2009 the plan was 75,000 PSTN lines but so far SLT has sold around 10,000 (for the first eight months), they alleged. They noted that this has dampened the performance of the SLT but no action has been taken by the management to remedy the situation as their focus is directed towards consolidating their power at the SLT. Wire line revenue has recorded a considerable drop this year, they added.
Union leaders blamed the SLT’s Chairperson and Chief Executive Officer for the failure to implement a proper business plan since 2008 due to differences of opinion (between themselves). Both were unavailable for comment on these charges.
When contacted to gain a clarification from the SLT management on the present situation, a senior official of the company who declined to be named, said that the company is facing difficulties in giving new telephone connections in some areas due to a shortage of equipment and accessories and the lack of loops.
However he agreed that there is no improvement in this fixed line service. Prevailing inflationary conditions coupled with the cost of group expansions, has caused the operating expenditure to increase by 25% to Rs. 14,291 million in the first eight months of 2009, when compared to Rs. 11,460 million in the same period the year before. At the company level the operating expenditure increased by 14% to Rs. 9,932 million, compared to Rs. 8,728 million of the same period of the last year they said.