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  Fixed Telephony

The Widest Reach by Far
SLT’s fixed line network has the most extensive reach by far. For many years it was the only and then subsequently the main fixed line operator. SLT still continues to dominate fixed line telephony especially in the more profitable urban areas. Overall SLT has as much as 88% of the market. At the end of 2003 its fixed line customer base stood at 822,922.

Our customers come from all walks of life: from the big urban based corporate to the small entrepreneur and rural farmer. Few providers globally can boast of such a wide and diverse customer profile. We will continue to nourish every segment of this customer base and ensure that they all have access to the new developments in communications technology. Our objective has been to ensure that all Sri Lankans whatever class or segment they hail from have access to a functioning and effective telephone connection. In this regard we have spent special attention in developing those areas where access to telephonic services has been limited.

For operational reasons SLT is divided into four regions:
  • Metro which consists of Colombo and its suburbs;
  • Region 1 which consists of the Central, Western/North, North Western and North Central provinces;
  • Region 2 which consists of the Uva, Southern, Sabaragamuwa and Western/South provinces; and
  • Region 3 which consists of the Northern and Eastern provinces.
Providing ‘Hope’ and Access to New Areas
One of SLT strategies over the past few years has been to develop the switching and transmission capacities in difficult areas. With this in view SLT has embarked on a major infrastructure development programme in those areas where communications networks have been underdeveloped or have been damaged.

SLT launched Project ‘Hope’ to improve telecommunication facilities in the Jaffna peninsula. The Project, Hope, was designed to install state-of-the-art facilities in that region. For SLT the development of the facilities in Jaffna has been ‘top priority’. A similar programme was launched in Mannar. Project ‘Bridge’ will complement develop telecommunication infrastructure in the Mannar region.

OPMCs: A third Generation Maintenance Platform
SLT has been progressively upgrading its maintenance capabilities since privatisation. An important part of our maintenance strategy has been the employment of Outside Plant Maintenance Centres (OPMCs).

At the end of 2003 SLT's fixed line customer base stood at 822,922

Over the past two years 4 centralised OPMCs have been established in different parts of the country. OPMCs offer a centralised location and enable a quicker response whether it be a new service or the repair of an existing service. Because of the centralised functions - of human resources, materials, transport facilities - and the use of advanced computer technology OPMCs have resulted in considerable savings and trimmed the cost of our maintenance fleet. OPMCs are powered by a computerized network workflow management system to enable an optimum utilisation of resources. Extended working hours - from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. - has resulted in a better service and greater value to our customers.

A modern maintenance system requires technical capacity and the availability to respond speedily and effectively. Both are indispensable for the modern consumer. By combining skilled technical resources with stateof- the-art technology in a central location our OPMC seeks to do just that.

The OPMCs have begun to create a new work culture and as a result fault clearance rates have continued to improve. In this area we have a comprehensive maintenance management plan developed in connection with NTT Communications Corporation of Japan. This has been boosted by an increased emphasis on maintenance training of SLT’s technical staff.

For the second consecutive year, in 2003, SLT won the Taiki Akimoto 5S Overall Winner Award.

Coping with the Floods
Severe flooding in the month of May caused extensive damage in parts of the Western, Sabaragamuwa and Southern provinces. The SLT network also suffered considerable damage. 52 exchanges were damaged leaving over 15,000 customers without connections. Because of the emergency measures that we had in place SLT was able to respond swiftly and have the systems working in a matter of days. We were supported by the Armed Forces and the Police, and by the excellent response we received from our staff. Most exchanges were functioning within two days with the aid of our standby generators and facilitated relief work greatly.

Picking up Prizes for Innovation
For the second consecutive year, in 2003, SLT won the Taiki Akimoto 5S Overall Winner Award. The Matale Regional Office brought SLT this coveted award. In addition, we bagged 3 merit awards (for Polonnaruwa and Badulla Regional Offices and the Panadura OPMC) and 5 Certificates of Excellence (for the Gampaha, Ampara and Bandarawela Regional Offices and SLT Training Centre, Welisara). The Kandy Regional Office brought the Runnerup award Nagai Yamamoto Kaizen Award 2003.

Growing with Our Network
Over the past six years SLT has considerably strengthened its domestic and international network.

We will continue to strengthen our network by upgrading exchanges, outside plant capacity and switches.

SLT spent Rs. 51.25 billion over these past six years on network expansion. A sum of Rs. 7 billion has been earmarked for network expansion in 2004.

SLT’s fully digital transport network consisted of optical fibre and microwave links covers most of the country. Optical fibre rings significantly strengthen the SLT backbone transmission network and provide a high degree of reliability. SLT plans to optimise its existing fibre optic infrastructure to provide high speed and low cost data, media and voice transmission services. At the end of 2003 SLT’s network consisted of 500 digital exchanges.

In the remote area and difficult terrains SLT is planning to deploy cost effective technologies such as wireless local loop networks in a bid to meet the increasing demand in those areas.

SLT plans to optimise its existing fibre optic infrastructure to provide high speed and low cost data, media and voice transmission services.

SLT’s New Tariff Structure: Catalysing Growth and staying Competitive
The 5th and final tariff rebalancing exercise specified in the agreement between NTT and the Government of Sri Lanka signed in August 1997 was implemented in November 2003. This rebalancing exercise enabled SLT to make a case for a rational and operationally feasible tariff structure.

As a result of this revision, SLT was able to introduce a more competitive pricing structure. The pricing structure now in place is based on a sliding scale: the more units you use the less you pay per unit. One of the benefits has been to place domestic telephony on par with any other commodity. Enterprises that have large volumes of business have a articular advantage under the new tariff structure.

In addition to the changes in the tariff structure the off peak times were also changed and the discounted band time increased by an hour brining it to 9.00 p.m. from 10.00 p.m. This is expected to give a boost to the usage of Internet.

Growing Our Value Added Services
Over the past few years SLT has focused on developing new value added services. Our objective is to offer our existing customers new value added services and maximum utilisation of resources. Through this we plan to increase the subscriber base and to generate more revenue.

Among the value added services we have recently developed are the SLTPlus, SLT CLI and SLT VMS other packaged service offerings.

A State-of-the-Art Billing System installed
In 2002 SLT decided that the Billing and Revenue System installed in 1997 was unable to cope with the growth of the Company and needed to be replaced. In October that year SLT invested US$ 20 million to buy a new system which encompasses an integrated Operation Support System, a Billing Support System and a Mediation Support System. Its flexible architecture and user friendly characteristics provide for a converged support system.

The first phase of our new billing system went online in April 2003 for our Internet and data customers. In November the new billing system was introduced for our metro and other customers.

Converting to a 10 Digit Number
The Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has taken a decision to initiate ten-digit number conversion. This conversion will provide all fixed telephones and wirelines with a geographic identity that would be determined by the area code.

The new plan will facilitate the introduction of emergency services and a uniform short code for operators. It will also standardise the length of all subscriber numbers of every fixed line telephone.

One of the advantages of this format is that it enables the system to expand. It will accommodate 10 million customers in each area and will eliminate the limitations of the existing system.

In conformity with the TRCSL directive SLT progressively introduced the ten digit number in all areas under its purview. At the moment all SLT fixed line numbers have been converted to 10 digit numbers.

Moving Towards a ‘Duration’ Based Charging System
Another major change that will occur in the near future is the shift from a unit based charging system to a duration charging based system. The unit based system currently in operation is complicated and not user friendly. The duration based system will ensure that consumers are charged only for the time for which they use the facility. The pricing structure will be calculated on a per second basis. This will enable us to offer conveniently comparable and further competitive pricing structure.

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