* Move to increase competition - analysts
* Small telecom operators to benefit - official (Adds details, analyst comment)
COLOMBO, Jan 19 (Reuters) - Sri Lanka will introduce common floor rates for call charges effective from Feb. 1 in a bid to ensure that small telecom operators remain competitive, an official with the country’s telecommunications regulator said on Tuesday.
Charges on the same network will be raised by a maximum 50 percent to 1.50 rupees per minute, while those between networks will be reduced by as much as 28 percent to 1.80 rupees, Indrajith Handapangoda, acting director, competition, with the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission, told Reuters.
“Operators had requested to review the floor rate, especially the small operators having a lower market share. When this type of tariff is there, they can compete with big operators.”
The move would help improve competition among telecom operators as new subscribers would have no incentives in choosing a particular network, analysts said.
Sri Lanka has five mobile telephone network operators, including listed Dialog Axiata and Mobitel Sri Lanka, the mobile arm of listed fixed line phone operator Sri Lankan Telecom.
Dialog and Mobitel account for around two-third of the mobile phone market. The other three mobile telephone network operators are Airtel, the local arm of India’s biggest telecom carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd, Etisalat, a subsidiary of Dubai-based Emirates Telecommunication Corp, and Hutchison, owned by Hutchison Asia Telecom. (Reporting by Shihar Aneez and Ranga Sirilal; Editing by Subhranshu Sahu)