BY ANJANA Samarasinghe (Daily News) www.dailynews.lk
THE Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL) has allocated Rs. 2.5 million for the “eNABLE” project this year.
“eNABLE” is a project which will serve communities in remort areas with special emphasis on women and people with disabilities. The project has empowered the universal access/service concept, which facilitates the communication needs of everybody.
Under this project telecommunication facilities have been granted for Ranaviru villages, Homes for children with disabilities and homes for elders.
Director, Legal Affairs of the TRC P. R. Amarasiri said this year TRC expects to establish five new ICT centres in Ratmalana, Ragama, Matale, Wattegama and in the South. These centers will specially focus on empowering people with disabilities through ICT.
These centres will consist of computers, printers, facsimile facilities, Internet access and payphone facilities.
The TRCSL also hopes to empower women who are involved in cottage industries in rural areas through the use of ICT. The main objective of this programme is to introduce suitable software for women entrepreneurs in rural areas to enhance their businesses.
‘Now we are in process of finding appropriate software that could be needful for their businesses’, Amarasiri said.
The TRCSL also established an ICT centre in Thalawa, Anuradhapura where many rural women and children were able to access Internet and enjoy other telecommunication facilities.
The “eNABLE” encouraged service providers to construct payphone booths that can be easily used by people with disabilities.
It been also introduced assistive technologies that has provided telecommunication services for hearing impaired citizens for the first time in Sri Lanka.
At the beginning TRCSL had to host the project but today almost every service provider has joined hands with TRCSL for the project.
Any society or any community could request to establish telecommunication facilities such as payphone booths for their villages through the TRC, she said.
In 2004 the total number of fixed phones recorded was 991,239 and it was 1,130,923 in September 2005. Out of the total number of fixed phones last year 911,553 were land phones and the balance were wireless local loops.
The total distribution of fixed phones provincial wise in September last year were Western Province 696,397, Southern 89,746, Central 102,895, Sabaragamuwa 52,263, Uva 31,996, North Central 30,947, North Western 69,148, Eastern 39,198 and Northern 18,333.
In June 2005 applicants for fixed phones reported in the waiting list were 325,956.
The total number of mobile subscribers recorded 3,084,845 in the third quarter of 2005 and Internet and email subscribers were recorded at 111,259 (provisional).
Pro bono is indeed raising an important question regarding what falls within the powers of the TRC as set out in sections 4 and 5 of the Act. My recollection is that it would be a stretch to include the actual operation of telecenters.
Even if some legal interpretation is found to justify it, I’d see a conflict of interest and a violation of the separation of the regulatory and operational functions that serves as the basic rationale of the existence of the TRC.
The amount that is referred to, LKR 2.5 million, is miniscule compared to the LKR 5300 million plus that is being spent on e Sri Lanka by the ICT Agency. At least now that the TRC and the ICTA are both under the President and marching to the same tune, it may behoove the TRC to work with ICTA on these matters, rather than try to do too many things, not too well.
This is a great project indeed. Somebody has to do it. Somebody is going to do it. A better future for ICT in Sri Lanka can be expected with proper coordination and joint development of ICT under the purview of HE the President. What was lacking in Sri Lanka was cooperative approach rather than redundant activities by several institution on their own accord.
It is important that clear legislations enacted in establishing new institutions allowing employees of these organisations to work freely and more produtive way than idling in uncertainity.
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