Daily Mirror (Sri Lanka)
Dialog says SL’S broadband penetration increased to 33%
Low taxation, affordability of smartphones and services availability key reasons About 21% of country’s population using Dialog’s high-speed broadband services Of Dialog’s 11.8mn mobile subscriber base, 44% were using smartphones in 2016 Incoming Dial
The number of Sri Lankans using broadband Internet has increased significantly over the past year, along with the availability of highspeed broadband services and smartphones across the island, according to the country’s leading telecommunications firm, Dialog Axiata PLC (Dialog).
“During the course of 2016, the broadband penetration levels increased to 33 percent, driven by the expansion of service availability, increase in affordability of smartphones and successive reductions in broadband tariffs,” outgoing Dialog Group CEO Dr. Hans Wijayasuriya told the shareholders in his latest annual review.
Exactly 12 months ago, he had noted that just 20 percent of Sri Lanka’s 21 million population was using broadband services by end-2015.
However, Dialog’s numbers on Internet penetration are considerably different from the data compiled by the staterun Department of Census and Statistics (DCS).
The DCS this month revealed that only 15.1 percent of households across the island had used Internet at least once during 12 months ending in June 2016, with a 30 percent Internet penetration present only in households within the Colombo District.
Dr. Wijayasuriya claimed that 21 percent or three million of the country’s population were using Dialog’s high-speed broadband services.
His claims on smartphone affordability however were confirmed by DCS Director General Dr. Amitha Satharasinghe, the DCS data, which indicated the reducing ownership of personal computers in relation to increasing Internet usage and smartphone sales figures of the country’s leading retailers.
Of Dialog’s 11.8 million mobile subscriber base, 44 percent were using smartphones at end-2016, a 14 percent increase year-on-year.
Meanwhile, Dr. Wijayasuriya also noted that the service coverage increases over the course of 2016 have provided over 85 percent of Sri Lankans with an opportunity to utilize broadband speeds in excess of one mega bits per second (MBPS), while 53 percent of the population could now avail themselves of speeds between 10-40 MBPS.
Dialog recently invested Rs.5 billion to install the ultra-high capacity Bay of Bengal Gateway submarine cable, which delivers 6.4 terabits per second, allowing the firm to sell faster and larger parcels of broadband bandwidth at highly competitive prices.
Although low taxation during 2016 had contributed to Internet penetration during the year as noted by Dr. Wijayasuriya, incoming Dialog Group CEO Supun Weerasinghe said that due to the recent tax increases, the short-term outlook would be challenging.
“We anticipate that the short term to be turbulent as increased indirect taxation on communication services will constrain consumption and demand for services. We are determined to translate this challenge to an opportunity by innovating affordable solutions for our consumers while rescaling our cost structures,” he said.
While taxes were increased across the entire telecommunications sector, data or Internet services were hit the hardest, with effective taxation increasing from 32 percent to 50 percent.