Business Times

Regional telecom regulators discuss regional issues, seek consensus

The 11th South Asian Telecommunications Regulators Council Meeting (SATRC-11) which closed on Thursday saw a host of South Asian nations discuss pertinent issues in the industry. “We discussed cyber security in the region, the quality of telecommunication services provided by the regional operators and the regulatory inefficiencies during the last three days,” Priyantha Kariyapperuma, Director General Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRC) told the media, at the end of the meeting.

Pictures show Professor G.L. Peiris, Toshiyuki Yamada and Priyantha Kariyapperuma; and a section of the audience with a TV screen near their feet during the keynote speech. Pix by Saman Kariyawasam

He said that adoption of green technologies and safety of wireless networks, facilitation of broadband in SATRC nations, pricing allocation, cross boarder coordination for reducing interference, interconnection tariffs in SATRC nations, etc were deliberated at this meeting. One of the most important topics that were discussed was the implementation of a uniform rate for the calls made within the region.

“The regulators agreed on this proposal during this meeting and we are currently on the process of discussing the possibilities,” he said. Discussions are also being held with the respective service providers to implement affordable IDD tariffs as well as international roaming rates to the consumers of the region.

“There is a population of over two billion in this region. In a period of over just six years, the number of handsets used within the region has grown from 42 million to 540 million. Even though we are developing countries, we have crossed great boundaries together in terms of telecommunication development. This is also a prime deciding factor in the enhancement of the quality of life,” said Mr. Kariyapperuma.

This year, apart from the regional countries of South Asia, Iran was also a part of the meeting as a council member. “The main objective of this gathering is to bring harmony amongst the telecommunication regulators of the region and prepare policies for the betterment of the industry with least regulatory barriers, in the region,” Mr. Kariyapperuma said.

“Sri Lanka comprises a growing telecommunications sector. There are five mobile service operators and 13 million mobile users. Also, more than two million connections have been sold during the past six months. Sri Lanka is also equipped with the most advanced network systems as well as many other sophisticated aspects of telecommunications as well as ICT with facilities such as 3G, HSPA (High Speed Packet Access), video calling, mobile broadband, GPS, IPTV (Interactive personalized Television) as well as Wimax (Worldwide Interperability for Microwave Access),” he said. Speaking of the future enhancements to be introduced to Sri Lanka, he remarked that the TRC is currently having discussions with the local telecommunications providers on introducing LTE (Long Term Evolution). LTE is a mergence of CDMA and GSM technologies.

He also added that amendments will be made in Sri Lanka Telecommunications Act and a new Act will also be implemented with the convergence of media. Professor G.L. Peiris, Minister of Export Development and International Trade and Acting Minister of Posts and Telecommunications, delivering the SATRC inaugural address, noted that the telecommunications sector in the country should develop so that the country can respond to the foreign investor interest as vigorously and as imaginatively as possible.

Toshiyuki Yamada, Secretary General - Asia Pacific Telecommunity, said that SATRC’s discussions during the last three days in order to coordinate regulatory and other related issues in the area of telecommunication and ICT that are of common interest of the South Asian sub-region was a step in the right direction.

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