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GSR 2012

ITU statistical market overview: Sri Lanka

Sri Lanka has a relatively high mobile-cellular penetration, which has more than doubled from around 27% in 2006 to over 87% by end 2011. By beginning 2012, the country’s mobile penetration level was higher than the world and regional averages (see Chart 1).

The large majority (around 90%) of mobile cellular subscriptions in the country are prepaid. The percentage of the population covered by a mobile cellular signal stood at 98% by beginning 2011, with virtually all Sri Lankans now covered by a mobile cellular signal.

 

Chart 1: Mobile-cellular penetration, 2006-2011, Sri Lanka in comparison
Chart 1
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.

 

Home to a highly proactive regulatory authority and a competitive mobile market with five operators, Sri Lanka ranks 14th globally in the 2011 mobile-cellular price basket, which measures affordability of services. That means that mobile cellular prices are among the lowest in the world, in US$ terms as well as in relative terms (as a percentage of GNI per capita), with prices dropping by over 40% between 2010 and 2011.

Like other operators in South Asia, those in Sri Lanka have adopted a ‘budget telecom model’ – a business model based on low cost, low prices and high volume. This type of model aims at profitability even when serving low-income areas and populations. A key characteristic is the reduction of network costs by “sharing passive and active infrastructure, by outsourcing key parts of the operation including even the management of the core network”. On the end-user side, the model takes into account the often limited ability of consumers to pay for a monthly subscription, and is based on prepaid services.

Fixed- and mobile-broadband market

Sri Lanka has a dynamic broadband market, with different fixed and mobile operators providing broadband services through different technologies (WiMAX, ADSL and HSDPA) and via various packages, depending on users’ needs.

The country was the first in the region to introduce 3G mobile-broadband networks, which operated commercially as early as 2006 (well ahead of, for example, India, where 3G only became available in 2011). The regulator regularly publishes network quality reports and reports compiling and comparing fixed- and mobile-broadband prices and speeds. Both TRCSL and the ICT Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) have made broadband access a policy focus. Examples of recent ICT development projects include the setting up of over 500 rural telecentres, a subsidy scheme to build and operate a fibre backbone in rural areas, and the development of e-government applications.

While broadband infrastructure is relatively well developed, further efforts need to be made to drive demand. Broadband penetration – both fixed and mobile – is relatively low and remains behind the regional and developing country averages (see Charts 2 & 3). Sri Lanka does, however, compare relatively well to other low and lower-middle income countries from the South Asia sub-region (again, see Charts 2 & 3). With the infrastructure in place, Sri Lanka has great potential for increasing broadband use once customers recognize the benefits high-speed connections can bring.

 

Chart 2: Fixed (wired)- broadband penetration, Sri Lanka in comparison with regional, world and developing country averages, 2006-2011 (top), and with low- and lower-middle income economies in South Asia, 2011 (bottom)
Chart 2-1
Chart 2-2
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.

 

 

Chart 3: Mobile-broadband penetration, Sri Lanka in comparison with regional, world and developing country averages, 2010 and 2011 (top), and with low- and lower-middle income economies in South Asia, 2011 (bottom)
Chart 3-1
Chart 3-2
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.

 

Internet

The percentage of individuals using the Internet in Sri Lanka is below regional and developing country averages. ITU estimates that by beginning 2012, 15% of the population was online, compared with an average of 26% in the Asia and Pacific region, and 24% in developing countries overall (see Chart 4). Around 8% of Sri Lankan households have Internet access at home, compared with a regional average of 25%. However, when compared with other low and lower-middle income countries in South Asia, Sri Lanka compares relatively well.

 

Chart 4: Percentage of individuals using the Internet, Sri Lanka in comparison with regional, world and developing country averages, 2006-2011 (top), and with low- and lower-middle income economies in South Asia, 2011 (bottom)
Chart 4-1
Chart 4-2
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.

 

Sri Lanka has access to international Internet bandwidth via a number of international fibre optic cables, including SE-ME-WE 3 and 4 and FLAG. International Internet bandwidth per Internet user stood at 5,224 bit/s by beginning 2012, which is similar to India.

Fixed-telephone market

While relatively stagnant at around 17%, fixed-telephone penetration stands above the regional and developing country average of 14% and 12% (see Chart 5).

 

Chart 5: Fixed-telephone penetration, 2006-2011, Sri Lanka in comparison
Chart 51
Source: ITU World Telecommunication/ICT Indicators database.

 

Find more global market statistics at:
www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/material/pdf/2011%20Statistical%20highlights_June_2012.pdf

Find country-by-country information at:
www.itu.int/ITU-D/ict/statistics/index.html

 

 

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Updated: 2014-07-31