Hutch to invest $ 200m for islandwide 4G coverage | Sunday Observer

Hutch to invest $ 200m for islandwide 4G coverage

21 July, 2019
 Hutch CEO Thirukumar Nadarasa flanked by other officials of the company unveils the new NFV facility at Walpola, Ragama. Pic: Vimal Karunatilleke
Hutch CEO Thirukumar Nadarasa flanked by other officials of the company unveils the new NFV facility at Walpola, Ragama. Pic: Vimal Karunatilleke

The US$ 200 million investment by Hutch rolled out over a five-year period will see the company’s 4G technology touching all districts by March next year, said a top official of the company at the launch of Sri Lanka’s first Network Function Virtualization (NFV) based core network and advanced billing system last week.

“At present our 4G technology is available in 10 districts and we hope to touch the entire country by early next year,” Hutch CEO Thirukumar Nadarasa said during media tour to the company’s NFV facility at Hutchison Telecom Engineering Division at Walpola, Ragama.

Hutch, the third largest mobile network operator after Dialog and Mobitel with over 5.3 million subscribers and commanding a 28 percent share in the mobile market is a subsidiary of CK Hutchison Holdings Limited which owns 85 percent controlling stake of the company while the rest is held by Emirates Telecommunication Group PJSC.

Initially it was called as ‘CallLink’ and was the second mobile operator in Sri Lanka. Hutchison acquired its services in 1998 with the aim of being a nationwide operator in Sri Lanka.

As of September 2018, Hutch has a network coverage of approximately 90% of the entire island. Hutchison Telecom Lanka is a member of Hutchison Asia Telecom which comprises mobile telecommunications operations in the emerging markets of Indonesia, Vietnam, and Sri Lanka. The company completed the merger with Etisalat Lanka Ltd. on November 2018.

“We have embarked on a long journey since launching operations in Sri Lanka in 1997. We want to move up the next stage with the major investment we made to offer affordable broadband services to Sri Lankan cus tomers.

Our aim is to provide people affordable services more than offering only advanced services,” Nadarasa said adding that completion is the best regulator which will help create a healthy competitive market in the industry.

Hutchison Telecommunications Lanka launched its GSM service in 2004. Listed on the Stock Exchange of Hong Kong Limited, CK Hutchison Holdings is a renowned multinational conglomerate committed to innovation and technology with businesses spanning over 50 countries and over 290,000 employees worldwide.

“Broadband Internet is the future and our mission is to deploy broadband Internet to every nook and corner of the country. Over 90 percent of the population could be reached with broadband,” Nadarasa said, adding that most people in Sri Lanka prefer to stick to 3G technology as 4G and beyond are costly.

Hutch Head of sales and Marketing, Ramzeena Morseth Lye said customers are comfortable with 3G as it is quite sufficient for them to access internet and attend to other basic functions. However, officials of the company speaking on the benefits of the merger with Etisalat said currently only around 50-60 percent of Sri Lankans have 2G GSM phones. However with the Hutch Etisalat merger over 95 percent will get access to 2G.

The penetration level of 3G is around 65 percent. With the merger we could provide a wider cover age for 4g on 900 MHz band coverage.

Elaborating on the advantages of 5G Hutch General Manager, Network, Dhananjaya Ponnamperuma said 5G offers speed and quick response time. The technology is needed for Ultra HIGH Definition streaming, virtual reality, remote surgery and driverless cars and mostly for industrial applications.

When asked would the current devices used in Sri Lanka be compatible with 5G he said 5G needs new devices to support the technology.

5G is deployed in countries that could afford costly handsets such as South Korea.

“Being the newest 4G operator means we are deploying the latest generation of 4G technology in the market giving you the best experience. Our technologies are specially designed to give you a 4G experience without burning through your quota too fast,” he said.

Also referred to as LTE (Long Term Evolution), 4G is a step up from 3G and is becoming the most popular mobile broadband technology around the world.

4G provides a better and more robust experience than 3G as it is able to carry many more customers on the network at the same time. Download large files such as videos and games and streaming high quality videos can be done much faster and smoother.