28th March 2013, www.lankabusinessonline.com
Sri Lanka is allowing spectrum sharing and domestic roaming to promote shared resources and cut costs so that broadband tariffs can be kept low, the telecom regulator said.
"We are allowing spectrum sharing," director general of the telecommunications regulatory commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) Anusha Pelpita said.
"We will not regulate their tariffs but they will have to apply to us. This will help keep costs down and subscribers will get lower tariffs."
Domestic roaming has already been recently permitted and Airtel and Etisalat have started to allow customers to roam on each others' network, he said.
Dialog on Thursday paid 3.2 billion rupees for a 10MegaHertz paired frequencies block in the 1800MHz band paying 2.0 billion rupees higher than the next bidder, in an auction which had a floor price of 3.2 billion rupees.
Pelpita said the frequencies are expected to be used in the rollout of fourth generation LTE (long term evolution) high speed mobile broadband services.
The 1800 spectrum was allocated for GSM (2G) services by the International Telecommunications Unions, but can be used for 4G.
The 75MHz of paired bandwidth in the frequency band (or 150MHz in the band which runs from 1700 through 1800 MHz has now been allocated to operators.
Dialog Already had a 15MHz block, Mobitel had 20, Etisalat, Hutch and Airtel each had 7.5MHz each and another 7.5MHz allocated to a firm which did not have a network was in court.
Except for the 7.5MHz which was in dispute the entire band has now been allocated to operators, he said.
"Spectrum sharing will allow more efficient use of the resource," Pelpita said.
Operators can set their own prices, but those planning to share spectrum must first apply to the Telecom Regulatory Commission, he said.
In Sri Lanka the 900MHz band, which is used for mobile broadband elsewhere is occupied by television broadcasters, but the band may become free after digital broadcasting starts Pelpita said.
Unlike other countries which raised billions of dollars Sri Lanka has a policy of keeping frequency fees relatively low.
Pelpita said he wanted to promote broadband use and in Sri Lanka fixed broadband penetration was low, though mobile was picking up.
"We have allowed frequency sharing because that will also keep costs down, so that retail tariffs will be more affordable," he said.
"Domestic roaming will also reduce costs as operators can save on network expenditure."
Sri Lanka Telecom, which had been licensed to build the national telecom backbone, has to allow other operators to use the pipes on regulated tariffs.
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