Sri Lankan operator Dialog Axiata has switched on its 4000th LTE network tower as it takes strides towards boosting rural connectivity nationwide.
The latest site is located in Thihawa village, Kurunegala District, North Western province. The operator has deployed 515 towers since Sri Lanka implemented Covid restrictions in March 2020, with CTO Pradeep De Almeida stating that it had invested LKR50.9 billion ($255.8 million) since this time to address “the surge in demand for connectivity and to support our customers during these unprecedented times”.
During the pandemic, Dialog Axiata claims that its mobile data traffic grew by over 100%, while fixed broadband growth was over 200%. CommsUpdate reports that in response, the operator upgraded capacity across 2831 4G towers and 1816 fixed broadband towers, which required an additional 40MHz of spectrum in the 2600MHz band as well as reallocating 2G and 3G frequencies for 4G usage.
The operator is planning similar capacity increases for “more than 75% of the sites in the network by the end of the year.” In the same timeframe, Dialog Axiata also plans to deploy a further 450 sites in remote and rural communities in a bid to deliver 4G connectivity to 95% of Sri Lanka’s population to support regulator TRCSL (Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka)’s Gamata Sanniwedanaya initiative.
State-owned provider Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT-Mobitel) also stated that data usage on its network had doubled during each Covid-19 lockdown in Sri Lanka. TeleGeography reported that the operator had invested LKR25 billion (USD126.3 million) per annum on infrastructure across the past few years, with the goal of extending its 4G coverage and FTTH network.
While SLT claimed that its mobile coverage reaches 95% of Sri Lanka’s population, it stated that it was making efforts to improve coverage in “challenged terrain” and that to this end it would seek to accelerate the deployment of towers in unserved remote areas of the island nation.