The mobile telecommunications industry yesterday cried foul over the Budget 2018 proposal to charge Rs. 200,000 per month on cellular towers, insisting that it would increase the unprofitability of towers and lead to reduced internet coverage while dismissing the State’s contention that it would encourage sharing between operators.
In a statement, the industry pointed out that if the Government persisted with the measure, towers in rural areas could be reduced, eventually slowing down the internet penetration in the country, which is currently at about 38%.
“For more than two decades Sri Lanka’s mobile industry had been a key contributor to the economy of Sri Lanka, delivering 100% population penetration of mobile services at some of the lowest tariffs in the world,” the statement said. It added that three out of the five mobile operators were “still loss-making” and the tower levy would also impact the profits of the other companies, which could lead them to reduce investment in other areas.