At least some have first assumed it a practical joke, but Daily Mirror online confirmed President did send a New Year wish to all mobile users today. Using romanised Sinhala President wrote “Kiwu paridi obata NIDAHAS, NIVAHAL RATAK laba dunnemi. Idiri anagathaya sarwapparakarayenma Wasanawantha Wewa! SUBA NAWA WASARAK WEWA! Mahinda Rajapaksa” (As promised I delivered you an independent and free country. May your future be a success. Happy New Year!)
At the cost of LKR 1 per SMS message, this might have cost approximately USD 150,000 – equivalent to publishing roughly 75 full-page colour advertisements in national newspapers.
Sender’s number was hidden so the millions of mobile users, now constitute at least half of the population, could not return the greetings.
Had Cell Broadcasting (CB) been available in Sri Lanka, President would not have to use SMS – which is relatively too cumbersome for both the sender and receiver. CB would have been more economical too. Given that it uses a different band and sends messages together, it wouldn’t have congested the networks and the cost would have been certainly less than USD 150,000. As CB, unlike SMS differentiates users President could have even used a romanised Tamil message in Northern Province.
LIRNEasia have been a promoter of CB – mainly for, but not limited to early warning. It can be used effectively for other commercial and non commercial messages. Rohan Samarajiva highlighted some of its advantages over SMS in his short presentation in ‘Beyond the typical Early Warning Systems’ session at LIRNEasia at 5 conference. Download the presentation slides for more details.