Internet retardation could affect county’s economy
TV commercials and paper advertisements related to broadband Internet
services have done an extraordinary job in the country to lead us to
believe all what we hear and see are true. But the reality is not so.
Eventhough we the latest technology deployed some doubts may arise about
the quality of broadband Internet service that has been provided in the
Sri Lanka is believed to have the latest technology in the South
Asian region where telecommunication is concerned. From wired to wires
ADSL to HSPA superior technologies have been brought down for the
purpose of providing broadband Internet to the nation. We Sri Lankans
are lucky enough to have the wireless broadband technologies such as
WiMAX and HSPA very early while others in the region have not.
Sri Lankans waste valuable time in front of computers due to
slow broadband Internet speeds.
Sophisticated methods and technologies capable of providing
connectivity to isolated rural areas have been here for quite a long
time. Thus excuses do not seem to work; one could not justify the
situation by accusing lack of infrastructure facilities as the reason
for slow Internet services in the country.
Therefore let us keep infrastructure problem aside for the time
being. Let us consider the existing broadband Internet service quality
to identify its impact on the national economy.
There is no doubt that we need Internet in Sri Lanka than ever
before. The vast amount of benefits it could deliver towards the
development of the economy is enormous.
Not only the economic benefits but the other contributions it offer
to the social development are unmatched. In simple terms if Internet
could be provided cost effectively to all citizens it would certainly
help to increase country’s total productivity significantly in the time
The Government could save large sum of state funds spent on citizen’s
services if e-Government is initiated. This allows people to transact
with the Government institutes over the Internet rather than visiting
them in person. This would enhance the living standards of every
individual in the country.
In addition to the enhanced efficiency gained this would save
considerable amount fuel we use for the purpose of transportation. On
the other hand it is environment friendly too.
The rural community could be added to the country’s mainstream
through initiatives like e-commerce and BPO if we could provide Internet
at affordable price. But none of these would become possible if we
deliberately ignore the duties to our country. First and foremost we
must identify the malaises in broadband Internet.
Then swift action must be taken to rectify them by allowing the
benefits of Internet to reach every level in the society. In this
respect identifying the present scenarios in broadband sector and the
problems would be useful in all aspects.
As at present our broadband market is consisted of five operators
including four on wireless and one wired over ADSL. Satellite broadband
Internet is not commercially available for the use of domestic user as
These operators are providing a wide range of speeds from 512kbps to
4Mbps using different technologies. Though we have speeds like 4Mbps
achieving at least one third of this speed would be a miracle. The
situation becomes critical when accessing international sites in foreign
When it comes to bandwidth especially in wireless broadband the
situation is alarming. In addition to inadequate allocation of bandwidth
the available bandwidth varies widely beyond the acceptable level due to
Inconsistency in service. Regardless of operators all unlimited
broadband Internet services are identical in quality. Volume based
services with upper level caps performs slightly better.
All in all the entire Internet picture in the country looks
unhealthily. The low volume restrictions implemented, for instance
starting from 1GB and above, have adverse impact on user’s freedom of
browsing and using.
While companies in other parts of the world provide nearly unlimited
storage capacities for email, Sri Lankan broadband operators
unreasonably charge for the capacity above 10MB. The question is from
where and which authority would these operators have obtained permission
to allocate such small capacity storage for email boxes.
Since broadband operates in a policy vacuum no standard were ever
published to protect the users. Ad-hock basis broadband Internet
services tailor made to suit the requirements of operators have totally
forgotten the requirements of Internet user in the country.
The outcome would be more serious than we ever imagined. The intended
benefits of Internet to the country and its economy is about to
disappear over the horizon.
In other countries Governments and authorities have identified the
role of Internet and strategically intervened and implemented rules and
regulations for the benefit of the IT industry.
Recently in the United States FCC has revised their broadband
standard from 256kbps to 768kbps and given new definitions. Despite the
world trend in data communication, in Sri Lanka services like 512kbps
are still offered in the market with the incorporation of phrases like
“high speed” to grab users.
If one needs to have fair quality broadband service in Sri Lanka they
have no other option other than switching over to expensive wireless
services. But the ordinary people cannot afford to have these services
and again they incline towards poor quality service which is available
in the market with comparatively low price tags.
Higher the quality greater the amount the subscriber pays for the
service. However P2P users do not seem to be affected by the poor speeds
as it uses a different technique while downloading files.
In all aspects high speed Internet would be regarded as a catalyst
for IT. For the IT development reliable cost effective high speed
Internet service in the country is an essential. Therefore the
Government should take immediate steps to rectify the malaises in the
A very unique strategy is what we needed to increase the public
exposure and make them aware about the benefits of IT in their lives.
Apart from this the Internet subscriber empowerment mechanism program
must be introduced with the immediate effect to safeguard consumer
A proper integration of such mechanism would demand operators to
cater their customers with better service quality in the future.
Recently country’s International backbone capacity was expanded to
3.7Gbps from 90Mbps. In addition to this another operator has joined the
FLAG (Fiber link around the globe) undersea fiber optic cable network
adding an extraordinary connectivity to Sri Lanka’s International
backbone capacity. However adding capacity in the international segments
has failed to do any good to the country’s broadband subscribers
In this context Internet quality in the country must be enhanced to
meet the demands of growing applications.
Usage volumes, bottlenecks and other speed limitations implemented to
restrict the user must be taken off. This would assure the growth of
Internet penetration in the country thereby allowing more people to have
access to the information super highway at faster speeds yet affordably.
High speed broadband Internet is the catalyst for economy and IT
If we don’t rectify this situation by identifying the importance of
affordable high speed broadband we would not be able to achieve our
economic targets in this competitive world. Failure in taking action
could lead the Internet retardation which would impact badly on
country’s economy in the near future.