CommsUpdate: Sri Lankan state-controlled fixed and mobile operator SLT-Mobitel has expanded the footprint of its pre-commercial 5G network to the cities of Colombo, Kandy, Anuradhapura, Galle and Jaffna, offering end-users access to both mobile broadband and fixed wireless access (FWA) services.
As previously reported by CommsUpdate, last year Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) Group chief executive officer Lalith Seneviratne confirmed that the operator was preparing to launch a ‘pre-commercial’ 5G service in mid-2021 – under the SLT-Mobitel brand – ahead of the planned allocation of mobile spectrum to support a full-blown commercial launch, which is still pending.
Confirming that it is using spectrum in the 3.5-GHz band, allocated by the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), for the pre-commercial launch phase, Seneviratne said at the time: “By the middle of this year, we will have pre-commercial application of 5G perhaps with a few industrial vertical applications as well.”
However, Seneviratne went on to stress that as the TRCSL has not yet published any details of the allocation process, the timetable was fluid.
“The exact time of our 5G rollout will depend on the time when the telecom sector regulator issues the licence allocating spectrum. Once the licence is issued, we will invest. We will need around one year to develop the commercial application,” he explained.
SLT-Mobitel has earmarked $100 million for its 5G rollout in the coming years, on top of a further $15 million to acquire the necessary spectrum.
5G is not yet fully commercially available in Sri Lanka, but SLT-Mobitel isn’t alone in its 5G ambitions. Dialog Axiata – Sri Lanka’s largest mobile operator, which has been testing 5G since 2017 – opened its trial 5G network to subscribers with 5G-capable devices in July 2020 to test the network’s capabilities.
In March this year, Dialog Axiata claimed it was the first company in South Asia to successfully trial standalone 5G networks