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LankaCom build IT market
Monday, 15 August 2005 - 1:59 AM SL Time

Singapore Telecom`s local venture rolled out retail internet solutions, building up potential growth in Sri Lanka`s IT market.

LankaCom however says regulatory and a lack of access to fixed line operators infrastructure has kept internet cost high and retail usage low.

LankaCom chief Rohith Udalagama told Journalist in Colombo that the regulator had failed to unbundled the local loop, which would give third party companies like his, to offer value added services to fixed line customers.

Value added services, including internet are even now available to fixed line customers, but users pay for the service plus call charges to their phone company.

Udalagama says if the regulator intervenes to unbundled the local loop, customers will have access to third party service at lower costs ' with the operator and third party service provider splitting revenues to compensate.

Under the current setup Udalagama says third party service providers are at a disadvantage over network operators who are also offering similar services.

Udalagama says in the meantime, the firm will tap the future potential in Sri Lanka`s retail internet market, which so far has been unviable.

The two prepaid packages priced at Rs. 300, LankaCom officials, is designed to minimize cost for the potential customer.

Despite over 20 facilities based and none-facilities based (reselling) internet service provider licenses are in issue, only a handful are in commercial operation, LankaCom, currently a predominantly corporate service firm says, it would be market segment they do not want to miss out on.

Over the last three years alone, two significant service providers shutdown their internet business including Itmin ' a UN sponsored internet project.

A government initiative sponsored by the World Bank, in July is however trying to boost IT penetration, locally launching a low cost desktop PC in partnership with chipmaker Intel and other equipment and service providers.

The ICT Agency, driving the initiative, is also in the process of putting citizen services, education aids other key areas online along with more local language content.

Internet usage, reportedly at an estimated one percent at present is expected to grow rapidly with the proposed projects.

Singapore Telecom`s initial investment some 15 years ago in LankaCom is reportedly less that US$ 1 million.

LankaCom, however over the years has ploughed back its earning to pay to replace and by new infrastructure, company officials said. Courtsey lbo

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