Sri Lanka Telecoms Market Report

Telecoms, Mobile and Broadband - Statistics and Analyses

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Last updated: 24 Jan 2024 Update History

Report Status: Current

Report Pages: 150

Sri Lanka’s telecom market continues to experience the effects of economic turmoil

Sri Lanka’s telecom sector has suffered from the various economic crises which have engulfed the country since at least 2019. Consumers have battled high inflation, and shortages of commodities including fuel and essentials such as medicine. The economy is expected to show moderate improvement in 2024 as the government works on a recovery program approved by the IMF, though GDP is still expected to contract by 1.3% in 2024. Telcos have struggled to raise sufficient revenue to fund their necessary investment in network upgrades, while Hutchison Lanka has reported a significant impairment on its assets.

One area of the telecom sector which has experienced a fall is the mobile segment. Until the start of the pandemic in 2020, Sri Lanka had a very high mobile penetration rate, which reflected the preponderance for subscribers to carry multiple SIM cards to take advantage of cheaper on-net call rates. The reduction in demand led to a sharp drop in the number of active subscribers. This continued into 2023, when the number of subscribers fell 3.1% in the year to September.

The mobile market has seen some significant consolidation in recent years. In 2018, Etisalat Sri Lanka was sold to Hutchinson and became a part of Hutchison Sri Lanka. In mid-2023, Dialog acquired Airtel Sri Lanka in a cash and share swap deal which had first been mooted in 2015. The deal reduced the market from five key players to three, and made the case for the delayed implementation of number portability stronger.

Key developments:

  • Regulator delays implementation of MNP until later in 2024.
  • Hutchison reports impairment of HK$962 million amidst Sri Lanka’s challenging market following various political and economic crises.
  • Dialog announces plans to shut down its 3G data network to free up spectrum and increase the capacity of its LTE network.
  • Dialog in talks to merge with Airtel Lanka, reducing the number of MNOs to three.
  • Sectoral Oversight Committee advises government not to privatise the incumbent telco SLT to raise cash.
  • Government increases VAT on mobile devices and increases Telecom Levy to address revenue crisis.
  • Report includes the regulator's market data to September 2023, telcos' financial and operating data updates to Q3 2023, updated Telecom Maturity Index charts and analyses, recent market developments.

Companies mentioned in this report:

SLT (Sri Lanka Telecom), Mobitel, Dialog Axiata, DBN (Dialog Axiata Group), Etisalat Lanka, Hutchison Lanka (Hutch), Airtel Lanka.

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