National policy for high speed Internet
Broadband Internet has become the most revolutionised
telecommunication tool of this century. The unmatched benefits that it
provides to economies, as well as to societies, may be the reason this
communication tool has became so popular all over the world.
People find it is easy and convenient to do their day to day tasks
over the broadband Internet, rather than using other methods. The speed
and the cost effectiveness in broadband could be regarded as the driving
force which attracted more people in to the stream all over the world.
Far East, namely South Korea, was the birth place of modern broadband
Internet. Their success in both economic and social welfare has shown
the world how high speed Internet could change any country or economy;
should broadband be adopted.
Since South Korea's success, the rest of the world, particularly the
Western countries, have identified the importance of broadband;
consequently, they too have benefited. Our neighbouring countries, India
and Pakistan, have embarked aggressively on high speed Internet by
setting up broadband goals for the year 2010.
The socio-economic revolution created by the telephone in 20th
century, is about to re-create by the predominant broadband in this
century. The richness of the content that carries over the broadband
Internet is many times higher than any simple voice service could
As a matter of opinion, broadband could dramatically change the way
in which we work, entertain, live and learn (WELL). The benefits are
enormous, not only to the society, but also to the economy as well.
Therefore, to unleash the powers of high speed Internet and to take the
full advantage of this modern technology, we must act now without delay.
Proper placement of broadband services could bring number of benefits
to our society. But more than five years have passed since the
introduction of broadband in our country and still we haven't been able
to bring the benefits that were expected. Further delaying the process
could cause market deterioration, which might impact negatively on the
growth of broadband Internet in the country.
To avoid such a situation and to accelerate the growth of broadband,
we must implement a national policy for broadband at the earliest
possible time. Then the policy itself should be capable of identifying
the exact requirements that are needed for the development of broadband
in Sri Lanka.
When considering the past five years, Sri Lankan broadband market has
failed to secure its place like the other countries have done. As a
nation we have not recognised the latent powers of broadband so far.
The authorities have completely neglected it, so as a result, it went
unnoticed. No national programme was available for broadband in the
country except commercially oriented programmes conducted by the service
providers in the interest of selling their products. The missing link
here is the Government's presence which is compulsory and important to
the growth of broadband.
It is vital to understand why any Government should get involved in
broadband business. Among many features of broadband, socio-economic
empowerment alone, would contribute many benefits to the society.
This contribution pushes the total productivity in to a higher level,
causing GDP to grow rapidly. This GDP growth could be a good enough
reason for Governments all over the world to take control and promote
broadband in their respective countries. If broadband is capable of
doing such wonders in changing national GDP, what else do we need?
Without having high speed Internet, the richness of information
technology cannot be delivered to the society in the way it should.
Therefore, the speed is very important in data transferring and
contributing significantly to the lives of our community. Since high
speed broadband has been used to create a virtual reality environment
over the online applications, lower speeds are unable to complete with
the requirements of real time services like on-line medical consultancy
and video conferencing.
The well-being of the citizens is vital for the development of any
country. Therefore, the way people work, live and learn in this country
could drastically change with onset of high speed broadband Internet.
What most people do not know is that the high speed broadband Internet
is capable of doing their routine tasks that they normally do on regular
internet with greater time and cost efficiency. Point-to-point
travelling could be reduced by 50 per cent, if broadband Internet is
It is cheaper as it saves time and fuel; it is friendly on the
environment, which is important considering the regularly mentioned
concept of Global Warming. Similarly, one could find another job
opportunity where he or she could do it over the Internet by staying at
This modern way of working over the Internet is known as 'teleworking'.
Payment of utility bills such as telephone and electricity could be made
over the Internet by not visiting the billing offices.
Similarly, visits to the banks, Government offices or visits to any
other offices where public services are conducted could be eliminated or
reduced as these services could be easily accessed over the broadband
Internet with lightning fast.
But how could we deliver these benefits to our people? We could offer
the benefits successfully to our society through the direct intervention
of the Government, by implementing a national policy for broadband
Internet. Due to the absence of State mechanism in the Sri Lankan
broadband sector, we have already lost many economic goals that we
should have achieved in the past.
People are unaware about its benefits and no priority was given
nationally to promote broadband in the country. Broadband Integration in
countries' administration systems cannot be done without the help of the
Government. The Government could start its initial role by providing
most of its citizen services over the Internet. Failures or delays could
cause our nation to miss this great opportunity, and it could be a great
injustice to all Sri Lankans.
The present broadband market in Sri Lanka is not a promising one. The
way it behaves and flows presently, will never achieve the
socio-economic goals that are expected of it. Access charges remains
high, despite the world trend of: "declining price against increasing
speeds". ADSL access charges were never deduced and bandwidth has never
increased for the past five years.
It is interesting to note during this period, International backbone
charges declined by over 75 per cent in the world. In this regard, we
are about to break another negative world record. Volume based ADSL
services were provided without offering real time usage meter facilities
to its customers.
The web based metering service provided is unreliable and
intermittent. Sometimes these online counters become unavailable and
consume a considerable time to get updated. This is very inconvenient to
the users. It is also interesting to note how low-speed Internet
services were provided under the guise of 'high- speed' broadband.
Nominal ADSL broadband services were offered by using the phrase
'high speed Internet' for the past five years. The truth is, a broadband
service could not be branded as 'high speed Internet' if the operator
was not providing the stated quality or the speed.
Having a broader bandwidth is utterly useless without the
incorporation of high speed Internet. Metaphorically, it's just like
using a highway to ride bullock carts. Due to the rich content of the
Internet, it is vital to have a fast service at user's end because user
requirements have shifted from simple email to high quality real time
home applications which require fast services.
To watch full motion, good quality streamed video or to run live
video conferences, one must have at least a 700kbps fast Internet
service at his end. With 50-60kbps ADSL (day time) you are restricted
and feel like using a dialup service. At these speeds, sending plain
text emails and browsing the Internet are the things that you could do.
Volume based packages are much better, but again, the user is restricted
with 1GB data capacity, which is insufficient.
But one wireless operator, Dialog has managed to change the broadband
picture in the country. It has revolutionised the broadband market by
providing real high speed Internet services over 1Mbps using wireless
Though the price is very high, Sri Lankans now have the opportunity
of experiencing 'real fast' broadband services over the WiMAX and HSPA
technology due to new market entrants. Unfortunately, the highly marked
prices continues to keep the ordinary users away from accessing the high
speed wireless broadband Internet.
There is no doubt that should we implement the right policy for high
speed broadband Internet, we could stand as a nation proudly, and
eventually not be seen as a less developed country. Operators could also
benefit with the high demand of broadband Internet requirements as many
more people would need it, thus making them money. It is evident that
the broadband policy will create favourable conditions to all concerns,
citizens, operators and the Government.
In conclusion, let us as a nation welcome the benefits of broadband
to our lives, and wait in anticipation until we have come up with real
high speed broadband Internet which all citizens can afford. Personally,
I'm most confident that we could change our national economy with the
integration of broadband, by enhancing the living standards of our
people, where we Sri Lankans could stand on our own feet as a proud
nation in Asia.