LKSeries: Pioneering past helps foster Sri Lanka’s budding Internet industry

By on 22 Sep 2016

Category: Community

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In just a few weeks, APNIC 42 will be held in Colombo, Sri Lanka’s largest and most populous city. In the lead up to the conference, we’re telling the stories of some of the people involved in the Sri Lankan Internet community.

Read the IDSeries and NZSeries from past conferences.

Sri Lanka has always been a pioneer in the field of telecommunication in the Asia Pacific. In 1989, it was the first country in the South Asian region to introduce mobile phones, then the first to roll out 3G and 4G networks in 2004 and 2014 respectively.

APNIC has had a long association with Sri Lanka. In 1995 the economy’s first two commercial ISPs—DataNet [now LankaCom (AS5087) and Lanka Internet Services Limited (AS9329)]—became founding Members of APNIC.

Mobile penetration has been well over 100% for a number of years and has become the preferred means for people to access the Internet on the island. According to the Telecommunication Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka, the number of mobile broadband connections has almost doubled each year since 2009.

Fixed Internet connections have registered an impressive growth of 68% with people wanting faster connections to accommodate services like Netflix (launched at the start of this year). Currently ranked by Akamai in the global top 50 for broadband adoption, Sri Lanka’s ISPs have provided access to connection speeds above 4 Mbps to 77% of the population, with an average speed of 5.3 Mbps.

Although this growth in users is impressive, it only equates to one in five of Sri Lanka’s 20 million people using the Internet, and access is mostly limited to urban areas.

In a bold move, the Sri Lankan government recently joined forces with the Google-backed Project Loon to become the first country to deploy a balloon-powered high-speed Internet service. According to Sri Lanka’s Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Minister, Harin Fernando, the balloons will play an important role in meeting the government’s target of 50% Internet penetration by 2018.

This is the latest chapter in a long history of government support for the ICT industry, which it recognizes as a key enabler for the economy’s growing services and e-commerce sectors.

As connectivity improves for rural Sri Lankans, the local Internet industry looks set to continue the reputation for leadership achieved by the telecommunication industry.

Join us in the coming weeks as we share the stories of some of Sri Lanka’s leaders in the industry, and learn how the Internet is continuing to allow Sri Lanka to achieve great things.

Champika Wijayatunga — Veteran trainer never forgets his roots
Gihan Dias — LEARNing to develop the Internet in Sri Lanka
Lal Dias — Teamwork key to developing Sri Lanka’s cybersecurity capacity
Rohith Udalagama — Early ISP remains significant by finding niche
Chitranganie Mubarak — Agency creating a favourable environment for ICT in Sri Lanka

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The views expressed by the authors of this blog are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of APNIC. Please note a Code of Conduct applies to this blog.

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