Sri Lanka’s incumbent telecom service provider Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT) says it has covered every corner of the country with telecommunication networks. Sri Lanka Telecom started its ‘i-Sri Lanka’ project in 2011 and within four years was successful in connecting remote locations of the country also to the national networks.
Sri Lanka Telecom’s Chief Network Officer Priyantha Fernandez said that before the ‘i-Sri Lanka’ project was introduced, Internet penetration was very low in the country with a speed of only 512 Kilobytes per second(Kbps). For fixed-line connections under the project, copper cables were initially introduced to increase the speed up to 20 Mbps, which has increased up to 100 Mbps by connecting fiber optic cables. SLT deploys VDSL technology as well to deliver broadband services. VDSL technology makes use of existing copper cables in the last mile. Fiber optic cables will be laid to a certain distance fro o the copper cables, the speed was increased up to 50 Mbps before FTTH was introduced, he added.
Since the launch of the ‘i-Sri Lanka’ project, internet penetration has increased by around 2.5 times in the island nation. Every corner in Sri Lanka wherever copper cables were installed has been upgraded to fiber optic cables now in an attempt to provide 100 Mbps Internet speed. Nearly 500 base stations were established for SLT wireless connections at the moment. SLT is now planning to increase it up to 2500. SLT believes that when the fixed broadband connectivity increases by 10 percent in their country, there will be an increase of 1.5 percent GDP.
SLT hopes to take advantage of the international bandwidth that will be delivered to the country through the South East Asia-Middle East-Western Europe-5 (SEA-ME-WE-5) submarine fiber optic cable system. SEA-ME-WE5 cable system will be completed by the end of this year. Eighteen countries will be connected through this system in which an investment of US$ 600 million was made by all 18 countries while Sri Lanka’s share was $40 million. With the SEA-ME-WE-5 connectivity, the speed of the Internet will further increase and will support other mobile service providers to use the underwater fiber optic cable system.
In December 2015, SLT completed all phases of the ‘i-Sri Lanka’programme by adding over 4,500 new access nodes across the island with an investment of more than 13 billion Sri Lankan Rupees. Further, SLT will be able to provide 1,300,000 more broadband connections at data rates of up to 20 Mbps and will support Sri Lanka’s first FTTH network which is set to deliver data speeds of 100 Mbps. With this, SLT will be able to serve 70,000 households through FTTH by the end of this year.