Mobile phones

Networks and prices in Sri Lanka

Mobile phones

Mobile telephone usage in Sri Lanka is increasing, with around 70% of the population having a mobile. The rising use of mobiles is likely due to the end of three decades of civil war in the north and east of the country.

Mobile ownership is the highest amongst 16 to 35-year-olds in Sri Lanka. The penetration of mobile phones is around 95.1% (Sept. 2012) in a population of 20.1 million. The largest mobile phone provider is Dialog , with around 7 million subscribers. Mobitel, owned by Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) , is the second largest provider with 4.2 million subscribers. Etisalat  has 4 million users. The two smallest providers are Airtel  and Hutch , with 2.5 and 0.8 million subscribers, respectively.

Prepaid mobile phone packages

All providers offer a pay-as-you-go service for mobile phones. There is a minimum age of 18 for non Sri Lankans to get a prepaid mobile, and you will need to show some form of photographic ID, such as a passport or driving licence in order to buy one.

As in other countries with a pay-as-you-go package, you simply buy a SIM card (and a phone) from your chosen provider and add money to the SIM as you use it. Competition is very high between the mobile networks, which pushes prices down. For pre-paid packages, you can opt for by-the-second or per minute charges. Most packages are also also enabled for international calls, though these may become quite expensive on a pay-as-you-go programme.

Postpaid mobile phone contracts

Again, similar to many other countries, if you think you will be using your phone a lot or want a more expensive model, opting for a monthly paid contract may be a better option. The major networks all offer similar calling plans, so you must choose depending on whether you intend to send more messages or want more minutes. 

The best way is to shop around. If you know you will be calling a lot of Mobitel numbers, for example, then it might pay for you to get a Mobitel package. Calling within the same network is generally cheaper than calling landlines or other mobile networks.

For a mobile phone contract, you must be over 18 years old and will need:

  • Your original passport
  • Proof of your billing address -
    • Utility bill (less than 6 months old)
    • Bank statement (credit card or checking account)
    • Registered letter in your name received within the last 3 months
    • Rent/lease agreement
    • Letter from your employer

EZ Cash

Dialog is currently the only company to have a mobile wallet service, called EZ cash. This system allows people to pay for items and access banking services using their mobile. You don’t need a bank account for this system, it acts as a bank account itself, allowing you withdraw money, pay for goods and pay utility bills. It is available to both prepaid and postpaid customers.

Further reading

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