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

- By Chandeepa Wettasingh­e

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.

 ??  ?? Dr. Hans Wijayasuri­ya Supun Weerasingh­e
Dr. Hans Wijayasuri­ya Supun Weerasingh­e

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