Airtel death star looms over Sri Lanka’s telecoms


Bharti Airtel, the world’s 4th largest telecom operator will go operational in Sri Lanka on January 12th. I’m sure you would have drowned in their adverting by now. If you listen carefully you’ll hear the occational Dialog ad firing back. The talk among those in the know is that at least one smaller mobile operator (I won’t name names) will be snuffed out.  The current major players are expected to be badly fried.  The consensus is that the Indian telecom giant can easily out spend the competition (Airtel’s investment in Sri Lanka is said to be $200 million) and bring mobile rates down. More importantly it can out bribe its way out of political obstacles paid for by the competition. They are also said to pack a lot of high end local talent poached from Sri Lanka’s best companies.

Yet the most disturbing part is vengeful glee in the eyes of Dialog customers with customer service horror stories. I’m not a Dialog customer in any way though I do know quite a few disgruntled people who are. They seem to relish the idea that Dialog will take a beating. At a personal level I am concerned for friends at Dialog who are worried about their jobs. At the same time there are those joined Airtel from “stable” companies as a major career boast. Is wishing them success hypocritical? Not that they need my wishes. I want to avoid getting caught in the social crossfire of a telecom war.

Nothing is of course certain. There are plenty of Goliath vs small Goliath stories for those who care to Google it. In the end it boils down to who supplies the least hassle free service at an affordable cost. Naturally the combatants will have to play very dirty. At least there’s be a non-violent war in the news, for those who are willing to look away from the blood being spilt.

14 comments

  1. Well my personal opinion is too much of a hype is being created. Ppl are willing to hand over their daughters to Airtel, even without making a single call.

    All in all it’ll just even out the playing field, suck out that operator you speak of and give the ppl cheaper rates. It’ll have to comply with TRC regulations. For eg: Soo many operators fought just to give incoming free on mobiles a few years ago.

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  2. chaarmax:😀 Interesting analysis. But “hand over their daughters to Airtel, even without making a single call ???!!!😀😆 that’s a hilarious way of describing the hype.

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  3. well i should say that Airtel are heartless considering the way they are marketing now… well they should be sued with anti competitive laws for being too competitive…😀
    well we’ll wait and see who gets the bigger profit in the future… and i do hope that so called small service provider will get wiped out with their joke of a coverage…
    and i do hope T**O will also get the same treatment as their customer service is a real bugger sometimes….
    i called once to get GPRS activated and they told me to find out on my own… literally….

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  4. i heard people say that plan to boycott airtel because it’s an indian cmpany. that struck me as funny because all mobile phone operators in sri lanka, as far as i know, are not sri lankan. dialog is malaysian, mobitel is also malaysian considering maxis took over slt, tigo is indian and hutch (if it still counts) is from hong kong. funny how easy it is to “nationalise” people, even to their detriment🙂

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  5. Dee:😆 It just hit me that any anti-competitive law is Sri Lanka would be to make sure that the people who didn’t pay off the right people wouldn’t be able to compete🙂

    pissu perera:😀 such silliness is to be expected though its hilarious. But in the end I think it will be the rupee and the quality of service that count.

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  6. Dulan: Interesting! I did notice that quite a few of those blue Tigo shops along the Colombo – Kurunagala road had bright red Airtel signs so maybe they are getting Mobitel retailers to cross over. I don’t use my mobile much and have trained others not to bug me on it😉 so there’s no pressing need to switch right now. Good time to wait and see.

    It would also interesting to see if Airtel competitors improve their quality of service to compete.

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  7. Well Airtel did give out hundreds and thousands of FREE sims when they started, and Sri Lankan’s do like freebies.Pp lined up to get FREE Airtel sims.
    so ofcourse.. getting ‘1 million’ ‘customers’ is easy peasy for Airtel Lanka.

    one person would have 2-4 free sims.
    Thing is, not many of them are in use.

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    • 🙂 Interesting. Definitely out of touch over here. The last I heard Dialog cunningly made it practically impossible for Airtel users to call Dialog phones. Any details on that?

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