In 1997, Sri Lanka Telecom, the country’s main telecommunications company, was privatized. This was to encourage competition and brought some improvements to the telephone network, especially in rural areas.
The telephone network is made up of predominantly digital microwave radio relay, with fibre-optic links now in use in Colombo. The introduction of Code Division Multiple Access (CDMA) technology revolutionized telecoms in Sri Lanka, especially in rural areas. CDMA is the competitor of GSM when it comes to mobile networks and allows multiple users on different mobile phones to share the same bandwidth.
The current major fixed line providers in Sri Lanka are Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), Dialog and Lanka Bell. Suntel was Sri Lanka’s second biggest telecoms provider until 2012, when it was acquired by Dialog, and the name Suntel is no longer used.
How to get a fixed line
To get a fixed line installed, you will need to visit a shop of the company you have chosen. The documents you will generally need are:
- A filled-in application form
- Proof of address (utility bill or rental contract)
- Photo ID - driving licence, passport or residency card
- Copy of your visa
There are two standard package types - prepaid or postpaid. You also have the choice to rent a phone from the company or buy your own handset.
Prepaid fixed line packages
Prepaid packages mean you pay a fee up front, with the idea to limit your spending and not spend more than you want to on calls, etc. For example, Dialog charges a one-off connection fee of Rs4,999 (€30, US$38) for a prepaid fixed line. After that, calls to other Dialog fixed lines are Rs1 per minute and Rs2 for calls to other networks.
SLT charges Rs4980 (€29, US$38) plus taxes as a one-off fee. After this, they charge a daily rental of Rs3 (€0.02, US$0.02).
Once you have your fixed line on a prepaid package, you need to buy a phone card. Phone cards are available in various denominations and valid for different periods, depending on the company you go with.
Postpaid fixed lines
If you want a fixed line, and are happy to pay a bill every month, then the postpaid connection is probably the option for you. There is a range of bundles that you can choose from to add to your basic plan. These include services such as call waiting, call forwarding and three-way calls.
For example, SLT offers three different packages for postpaid customers - basic telephone, telephone + Internet or PeoTV, and telephone + Internet + PeoTV. You pay a one-time connection charge, then a monthly amount depending on your usage. You can generally choose between per-second or per-minute billing.