The director general of Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, Anusha Palpita, said that only three of the island’s five mobile operators took part in the competitive bids.
Malaysia’s Dialog Axiata was the successful bidder, Palpita said. Mobitel and Etisalat were other two participants in the sealed-bid process. The Lankan government had set the floor price for bids at 800 million Lankan rupees.
Sri Lanka's mobile phone operator Dialog Axiata will roll out the country's first mobile 4G LTE network, sealing the deal with a 3.2 billion Sri Lanka rupees ($25.22 million) bid at auction.
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.
Bharti Airtel Lanka, part of Indian telecom giant Bharti Airtel, did not participate in the 4G spectrum sale held today(Mar 28, 2013)
“We raised a sum of rupees 3.28 billion from the sale of LTE mobile spectrum. This sum was higher than expected,” Palpita said.
“LTE deployment will usher the country into a new era of advanced wireless services including fast high capacity mobile broadband with wide spread coverage”, Palpita added.
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.