Sri Lanka's telecom sector soared in 2006 to 7.3 million users, led by a 59% jump in new mobile phone connections on competition and falling call rates, an AFP report said.
Quoting the industry watchdog Sri Lanka Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, the AFP report said despite a waiting list of around 366,000 for fixed-line phone services, mobile phones, including GSM and CDMA systems, had allowed rural residents to get phone services immediately.
The AFP report further said fixed-line subscribers rose to 1.9 million in 2006 from 1.2 million a year ago after the commission gave CDMA licenses allowing three firms to use the cheaper technology and expand in rural areas.
The number of cellular phone users grew to 5.4 million in 2006 from 3.4 million a year earlier, as operators slashed tariffs by up to 40%, the report said.
The clear majority of new users buy pre-paid cards, the commission said.
With India's largest private phone company, Bharti Airtel, lined up to be the fifth mobile phone player, analysts expect further price cuts, especially outside the capital, to tap rural users in the nation of 19 million, the report said.
Bharti, which is due to start services by year-end, has promised to invest $100 million within the first year of operation, the report further said.