Google’s free calls ring alarm bells for SLT, Dialog

By Bandula Sirimanna

The global search engine Google’s free calls to mobile and fixed lines in the United States and Canada might reduce revenues for local operators like Sri Lankan Telecom (SLT) and Dialog, officials said yesterday.

They said they feared revenues from calls to the US and Canada might drop by 10-15% a year while the fall at Dialog was estimated to be around 5 %.

Between 38,000 to 48,000 minutes worth of calls are made to the US daily by 12,000 to 14,000 callers through SLT, an SLT official said. The call rate to Canada is higher, yet 42,000 to 43,000 minutes by 20,000 to 22,000 callers a day are recorded. In the case of Dialog, the figures are 18,000 minutes a day to the US by 6,000 to 8,000 people and 20,000 minutes by 10,000 to 12,000 people to Canada.

“If we are affected, it would be mostly by Tamil residents in Wellawatte who are regular callers to these two countries because they have relatives there,” an SLT official said.

According to foreign news reports, one million Gmail calls worldwide were made on the first day on Thursday through this new service offered by Google. While calls into the US and Canada are free, there is a small charge for calls to other countries. “I made two calls to the US on Friday to a relative and a friend on their fixed line and mobile phone. It’s so easy,” said an overjoyed Colombo resident.

Currently there are free call services like Skype for example. A Skype call from one computer to another is free to any part of the world but calling from a Skype account to a landline or mobile phone has to be paid for. There are also other similar free call services (computer to land-phone) offered on the web, according to internet experts.

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