Sri Lanka to roll out rapid development of communication infrastructure in remote areas
Daily FT: The Government has announced the rollout of rapid development of communication infrastructure in rural areas.
Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (TRCSL) Director-General Oshada Senanayake who is also ICT Agency Chairman said plans were afoot to start work to complete 100% broadband coverage in 10 districts before the end of this year under the ‘Communication to the Village’ National Program and to provide broadband coverage islandwide covering the remaining districts before the end of 2022.
He said the initiative was part of President Gotabaya Rajapaksa’s goal to utilise the telecommunication development fees to develop the communication infrastructure in remote areas.
Speaking at a briefing organised by the Presidential Media Centre through video technology, Senanayake also said that as communication was a strong factor in the national economy, steps had been taken to implement a programme to boost the economy through the communication sector.
The TRCSL has taken steps to provide all necessary facilities to the communication service providers and the Telecommunication Fund will bear 50% of the cost of the towers to be constructed under the ‘Communication to the Village’ programme.
Senanayake pointed out that even though the communication towers were constructed previously with material imported from foreign countries, now they were being produced locally, empowering a new economic sector.
Although the technical equipment installed in the coverage areas are currently used for 4G technology, they are designed to be compatible with 5G technology with the upcoming technological revolution.
He said online employment was a trend in developed countries and it was revealed that in the future it would also apply to Sri Lanka; with the COVID-19 pandemic the demand for internet communication services has increased by 40%.
Senanayake also pointed out that the time had come to attract foreign investors by empowering communication infrastructure, which would help boost the current ICT exports from US$ 1.5 billion to US$ 1.8 million this year and US$ 3 billion by 2024.
“The Government’s target is to enable online education in all schools in the country through a fibre-optic internet facility in the near future,” he added.
According to Senanayake, the concept of smart classrooms will help to overcome the shortage of teachers for subjects such as English, Science, Mathematics and Computer Technology, and it is currently being tested as a pilot project in collaboration with the Education Ministry and has shown progress.
He said the Government had taken steps to reduce all communication fees in order to achieve the objectives of the ‘Communication to the Village’ project.
Cabinet approval has been granted to amend the Telecommunication Act, which he pointed out would be a decisive factor in resolving existing issues.
Senanayake said that the country needed plans for safer use of technology and that the preliminary work required to establish a Cyber Protection Agency and a Data Security Regulatory Body through new amendments had already begun.
He said it was the policy of the Government to protect the consumer when empowering the telecommunications sector. It was revealed that approval has been granted to streamline the operating framework by setting up a central clearance agency and systems through all telephone operators as the next step in implementing the number portability service for all telephone subscribers.
‘Communication to the Village’ Project Director Sriyani Mawellage and Director (Competition) Indrajith Handapangoda also participated in the media briefing.
Sri Lanka’s ongoing development programme and the country’s positioning as an emerging business destination in the South Asian region have opened up a host of business/investment opportunities in the sectors of ICT and digital infrastructure development. The government of Sri Lanka is looking at transforming the country into an e-economy and has introduced many incentives to interested businesses/investors. Foreign businesses/investors could therefore explore the growing business/investment opportunities in Sri Lanka’s ICT and digital infrastructure development sectors.
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