Sri Lanka’s second largest mobile operator by subscribers, Celltel, says it will invest USD70 million to double the number of base stations in operation in key towns and cities to 400 over the next six months. According to TeleGeography’s GlobalComms database, Celltel introduced mobile services to Sri Lanka in 1989 when it launched an analogue ETACS network. It was the island’s lone cellco until the arrival of competition in 1993, and held sway over the sector until the introduction of GSM services by MTN Networks (now Dialog Telekom) in 1995. Despite launching a GSM network of its own in 2000, Celltel has seen its market share fall steadily to 17% by March 2006. Celltel aims to increase its subscriber base by 50% to 1.5 million users by the end of 2006. It now has 100% coverage in the towns of Kandy, Galle, Pollonnaruwa, as well as second level towns which include Habarna, Maskeliya, Karapitiya. It also claims 60% coverage of so-called ‘third level’ towns such as Pinnawella and Buttala, and 30% of fourth level towns like Wellawaya.
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