Business Times

More than $300 mln investment from telcos this year

The Telecommunications Regulatory Commission (TRC) says this year will see more than US $ 300 million worth of investment from the telco industry. “This is a large investment and we plan to increase the total revenue from the industry by at least Rs. 10 billion more than last year,” Anusha Pelpita, Director General TRC told the Business Times.

He said last year’s (approximate) revenue figure is Rs 120 billion. He added that the Interconnection regime, (which is the fee charged by the call receiving party from a call originating party; E.g.; from Dialog to Mobitel) and also the minimum floor rate for calls has helped the industry by eliminating unfair practices.

Mr. Pelpita added that while there’s been no unhealthy competition in terms of ‘voice’ or telephone calls from the industry players as was seen in 2009 and early 2010, the battle has now spilled onto data – or Internet connection speed (broadband speed). “After we pointed out that none of the operators had more than 25% of the promised speed (by them to the customers) they have made it a point to improve the broadband connections,” he said.

He said that now the broadband speed is at 60% to 70%. He added that TRC will put out a standard stipulating a minimum broadband standard per day, which will see further progress in the Internet connection speed. Mr. Pelpita said the regulator will over the next three years enhance the penetration levels of the broadband/Internet in the island. “Now it’s at 2% and we need to increase it to at least 10% by 2014,” he added.

In this respect, he said that more large investments in this area are needed. “Many Chinese and Indian parties want to come into broadband, but we want to grow the existing players first,” he added. Mr. Pelpita said that the Commissioners sanctioned amendments to the TRC Act early this month. “The last amendment was 14 years ago – in 1996. The new Act (after the amendments) will give more teeth to the regulator,” he said. He said that a 10-member committee in this regard will be appointed and they hope to see some light at the end of the tunnel within six months.

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