ICT Infrastructure Issues in Sri Lanka Part 2

Posted on October 14, 2006  /  31 Comments

Please continue discussion from the thread Dharmashala meeting on Wi-Fi here. This thread is dedicated to ICT infrastructure issues in Sri Lanka that include mesh networks in Mahavilachchiya, backbone infrastructure, Wi-Fi and Wimax licensing etc. Please keep discussion civil.


  1. If mesh is a success, why not ICTA replicate in other villages as well? Why everything is happening in only Mahavilachchiya?????

  2. Quote
    Why everything is happening in only Mahavilachchiya?????

    Mahavilachchiya started IT long way before the ICTA or even Dino’s group thought of rural IT.
    There are no other village in Lanka has done work close to Vilachchiya. One is coming up in Monaragala district. Other than these two I have not come across any.

    the reasons why others are deprived of IT is discussed in “software issues in sri lanka” blog

    Donald Gaminitillake

  3. http://www.lakaruna.org/ is the project in Moneragala. A place worth being meshed. Hope ICTA folks have resources to pool for this tiny village.

  4. Donald,

    “the reasons why others are deprived of IT is discussed in “software issues in sri lanka”

    Please explain what you mentioned here. It is too complicated. Are you suggesting that Professor Samaranayeke is the reason for all the problems in IT in Sri Lanka? Isn’t it little absurd to say so???? He looks a very decent old man on TV and shows great love to promote IT in villages.

  5. Dear Kariyapperuma

    Please visit
    and now

    Very long but read the facts then you can decide yourself

    I only publish facts for the public to read and understand.

    Rural IT was commenced in Mahavilachchiya long before anyone in Sri Lanka thought of doing so.

    Donald Gaminitillake

  6. I think it’s a little too broad to claim that Mahavilachchiya was done before anyone else did anything.

    You can take the credit for helping Wanni, but no need to take away from the Kotmale project or the Nivattakachethiya project which really helped Wanni do what he did in Mahavilachchiya.

  7. Real history about Mahawilachchiya. Visit http://www.horizonlanka.org/about_us/index.htm
    Loooks like it was started as early as 1998.

    “The Horizon Lanka Foundation was established in 1998 because of the determination of a group of children from the rural village of Mahavilachchiya. Their thirst for knowledge and educational advancement led them to the door of Mr. Nandasiri Wanninayaka (now CEO of HL Foundation), their former English teacher in the public school.
    Thus began an after school club providing children further education in English and computers. It has become a popular place for many children of the village. Since 1998, the Horizon Lanka Foundation has branched out. As well as providing an all round education to the village children at Horizon Lanka Academy, they have expanded into the Information Age and now service the entire community with their computer lab, which has 24h Internet access. In 2001, the website http://www.horizonlanka.org was launched by the children of Horizon Lanka Academy, opening a window to the world.”

  8. As far as I know Nivattakachethiya got the computers after Mahavilachchiya
    US Embassy gave the first conputer to the Saliyamala in Vilachchiya early as 1998
    Lacnet did had the funding but the computers came later

    Please correct if I am wrong.


  9. [quote] You can take the credit for helping Wanni [unquote]

    As far as I know, the only help Donald has ever given to Mahavilachchiya project is to donate an old PC and a printer.

    This was also given not in good intentions but to exploit the Mahavilachchiya project to promote his own so called Sinhala Character table for which he had business interests.

    Mahavilachchiya project was done by Wanni with some very smart kids in the village. Donald had nothing to do with it. There were so many well wishers who donated much more than Donald did but they dont want to make that public.

  10. Dear Mr. J. Kariyapperuma,

    [quote] It is too complicated. Are you suggesting that Professor Samaranayeke is the reason for all the problems in IT in Sri Lanka? [unquote]

    Who says Prof. Samaranayake is the reason for all the problems in IT in Sri Lanka? He is just an individual. How can an individual be the reason for all the IT problems in a country? Anybody who suggests such things should be out of his head.

    According to my thinking these are the root causes for the IT problems in Sri Lanka.

    1. Frequent change of governments and the lack of a national policy for IT

    2. Old school bureaucrats who does not appreciate the importance of IT

    and last but not the least,

    3. IT separatist “terrorists” like Donald, who do not appreciate team work and always ask for their own “separate IT states”

    If we work together, instead of criticizing each other and destroying the good work others do, there are so many things we can achieve for our motherland.

    P.S. This Donald is an annex seller, an O/L drop out, who knows nothing about ICTs and cannot understand issues like Unicode. Please ignore him.

  11. “As far as I know, the only help Donald has ever given to Mahavilachchiya project is to donate an old PC and a printer.”

    Helaya, this is wrong. Donalds have done so much more than this to Mahavilachchiya. Above all it was Donalds who dared to go to Mahavilachchiya when the others didnt like to go there due to fear of tigers.

    I still have some of the old webpages of Horizon website saved in my PC. You better study well before coming with unfait attack on Donald.

    Donalds have done so much more than giving a pc and a pritnter. They even sponsored Wanni’s trip to USA.

    So, do not undermine Donald’s services.

    Sinhala language problem came later in 2003. And this was something donald started for fun. He got more interested in it from the day prof threw his paper out at CSSL 2003 event.

  12. Thnaks for the comments MJ

    He got more interested in it from the day prof threw his paper out at CSSL 2003 event.

    This is the truth. Why prof threw the paper into the waste bin and the huge resistance followed after my the public lecture at the university.

    Quote from Helaya posting 18 =Software Issues in Sri Lanka Part 5
    Sinhala language should be saved only from those mudalalis who tries to make it proprietary so that they can earn a fortune from that.

    Now you can understand who was paid govt funds for 25 years!!and still in the govt pay roll — yet no proper Sinhala in Computer

    Donald Gaminitillake

  13. [quote]
    Why prof threw the paper into the waste bin

    Nothing personal, I guess.

    Patients with severe mental problems are usually not allowed to present papers at national level conferences.

  14. Hope you read Sunday Standard. A blogger has been sued in USA and won millions of dollars as damages

    Take care

    Donald Gaminitillake

  15. Donald,

    Are you serious?

    If the bloogers can be sued for the insults they make, surely my father (Dino) could be a multi billionaire by now suing those who write here about him…

  16. I am really surprised about the selfish attitude about the Sinhalese folk in Colombo.

    For the last few weeks most of the places in Northern Province (including Jaffna city area) have been completely cut off from the telecommunication network. There are no telephones, no Internet, no e-mail.

    There was not a single person here who have raised this issue in this thread named “ICT infrastructure issues in Sri Lanka”


    Is this not an issue serious enough to discuss?

    Or you have already given up North and took it as a land outside Sri Lanka?

    Almost an entire province of Sri Lanka disconnected from the telecom network!!

    Can there be any bigger infrastructure issue?

    Think what you would have done if Colombo is disconnected from the telecom network even for a day…

  17. Unbiased,

    what you are talking about is true. It is stupid to cut off a part of Sri Lanka from telecom due to unrest. The rebels have enough means to communicate including satellite phones. Closing down telecom and mobile coverage will only hassle the civilaians.

  18. Visit http://www.horizonlanka.org/ Looks like those in Mahawilachchi have stepped into VK’s territory. UCSC!!!!!

  19. Looks like Mahavilachchiya is very active. A FOSS seminar is going on there now. It is a happenning place. Isn’t it?

  20. If Mahavilachchiya is that active, why not the authorities replicate their example of WiFi and other projects in other villages including North n East??? Are the authorities both deaf and blind? They get examples from India and the West. Why not from Mahavilachchiya? Or do the Mahavilachchiya folks exchaggerate things???

  21. I got this invitation. Thought of sharing with you all.

    Dear All,

    The official launching of the “Internet for Homes through Mesh Network Project” will be held at 10.00 am on Saturday, November 4, 2006 at Horizon Lanka Foundation, Mahavilachchiya. We cordially invite all of you to attend this event.

    28 students’ houses and two public schools were connected to the Internet through mesh technology. (Visit http://www.apdip.net/projects/ictrnd/2004/L43-lk/ for more details of the project planning.) We are happy to mention that we could go an extra mile by providing Internet through mesh technology, to two public schools in Mahavilachchiya by deviating from its original plan of providing connectivity for 30 students’ houses.

    UNDP played a major role in the project by providing funding and monitoring the project since its inception. Our heartiest thanks go to UNDP’s local office for their constant support.

    We thank Telecommunications Regulatory Commission of Sri Lanka (TRCSL), Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA) and Enterprise Technology (Pvt) Ltd for partnering with Horizon Lanka Foundation on this venture.


    United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Asia-Pacific Development Information Programme (APDP), Asia Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), International Development Research Centre (IDRC CRDI), Asia Pacific Network Information Centre (APNIC), Internet Society, Pan Asia Networking, Microsoft


    Information and Communication Technology Agency of Sri Lanka (ICTA), Asia Media Information and Communication Centre (AMIC), Enterprise Technology (Pvt) Ltd, Horizon Lanka Foundation

    Please contact Rohan rohan@horizonlanka.org or Aruna aruna@horizonlanka.org for more details. (Telephone 060 225 6696) Please be kind enough to confirm your participation as we want to do the lunch arrangements for all the visitors.

    Keep visiting http://www.horizonlanka.org to get up to date information about this project.

  22. If what I hear is correct, VK Sam has strictly prohibited any ICTA staff to attend the inaguration of the Mahavilachchiya Mesh Network on Saturday. This is in spite of the fact that ICTA is one of the key partners to the project. VK Sam has warned if any ICTA staff attend the inaguration “they can forget about working at ICTA anymore”

  23. [http://www.bytesforall.net/node/196]


    The AirJaldi [1] mesh network is located in and around Dharamshala.
    The network can be considered as one of the largest mesh networks in the world. It covers over a hundred kilometers of rough terrain with a number of mountains and hills.

    Most of the network is situated in the foothills of the western Himalayan ranges. The network has already provided Internet access to over 2000 computers. The backbone is comprised of 30 nodes. More information on mesh networks and infrastructures in Dharamshala will be furnished in a follow-up article.

    According to me the network can be considered as the ICT infrastructure of the Tibetan government. This is because mainly the Tibetan Children Village, Tibetan Medical and Astrological Institute, Norbulingka etc use the network. The network is maintained by the Tibetan Technology Center also know as TibTech [2]. It was developed in cooperation with other institutes such as the Dharamsala Information Technology Group and the Tibetan Computer Resource Center.

    The network is built using cheap and off the shelf hardware. The firmwares on the routers are modified to improve efficiency, using OpenWRT as the base. The networks run software known as OLSR (Optimized Link State Routing) to create a P2P mesh between computers.
    The systems will move to a much more stable and robust platform called B.A.T.M.A.N. (Better Approach to Mobile Ad-Hoc Networking) that is championed by the Freifunk (“Free radio” in English).

    Prominent personalities…

    There were keynotes by:
    Roger Downer who is a professor in the University of Limerick Eric Brewer from the University of Berkley Vic Hayes who is regarded as the father of WiFi [3]

    There were also a number of presentations from other noted speakers such as

    Richard Stallman founder of the Free Software Foundation Dave Hughes who created the worlds highest CyberCafe in the Himalayas [4] Malcom Matson who works for the OPLAN Foundation Mahabir Pun who can be considered as the father of the Nepal Wifi Networks Elektra an intellect in wifi and radio technologies Jim Forster, one of Cisco’s pioneering engineers

    The conference had a good presence of Americans, Europeans, Asians but lacked representation from the African subcontinent. The next WSFII Annual meeting will be held in Ghana, in hope to increase the African presence.

    Related Links:
    AirJaldi: http://www.airjaldi.com [5]
    Freifunk: http://www.freifunk.net
    OLSR: http://www.olsr.org [6]
    wnoronha’s [7] blog | login or register to post comments

    [1] http://www.bytesforall.net/freelinking/AirJaldi
    [2] http://www.bytesforall.net/freelinking/TibTech
    [3] http://www.bytesforall.net/freelinking/WiFi
    [4] http://www.bytesforall.net/freelinking/CyberCafe
    [5] http://www.bytesforall.net/freelinking/AirJaldi
    [6] http://www.olsr.org/
    [7] warren.noronha at gmail.com

    Frederick Noronha http://fn.goa-india.org 9822122436 91-832-240-9490 http://fredericknoronha.wordpress.com http://www.flickr.com/photos/fn-goa/
    Free Software gives you the freedom to run, study, copy and improve software!

    Yahoo! Groups Links

    To visit your group on the web, go to:

    Your email settings:
    Individual Email | Traditional

    To change settings online go to:
    (Yahoo! ID required)

    To change settings via email:

    To unsubscribe from this group, send an email to:

    Your use of Yahoo! Groups is subject to:

  24. From Mahavilachchiya website

    See the progress in Mahavilachchiya!!!!!

    “Horizon Lanka Foundation partners with Ahamu Online Radio to webcast the launching of mesh internet network in Mahavilachchiya. Log on to http://www.ahamu.com. The program started broadcasting earlier than expected as the test runs went perfectly well. First webcast was done around 7.30 pm Sri Lanka time today. Program is being handled by two of the Horizon Lanka students, Ruvini Senevirathna of Grade 12 and Ruwan Laksiri of Grade 11. Denuwan Wijewardena of Ahamu Radio has been helping Horizon Lanka Foundation during last few years with his expertise in using multimedia and web applications.

    Live radio webcast is being done using Skype. Two announcers, Ruvini and Ruwan are at Horizon Lanka Foundation right now and the students and parents are communicating with the announcers through Skype from their homes. Thanks to mesh technology, all these wonders were possible.

    We also hope to interview the visitors from Colombo tomorrow on Ahamu Online Radio.”

  25. Donald Gaminitillake

    More on Vilachchiya

    The Mesh Network was inaugurated by Mr. Lalith Weeratunga, Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka, in a function which was purposely kept low profile due to the security situation of the country.

    Please see the pics at

    This project was funded by PanAsia R&D Grants programme and implemented with the assitance of the Information and Communication Technology Agency (ICTA) of Sri Lanka.

    What — if we had Sinhala running on these machines!!!!

    Donald Gaminitillake

  26. Visit http://www.horizonlanka.org/news/mesh/launch/wanni_speech.html

    See, this guy Wanni is inviting trouble. He hasn’t given any credits to Prof Samaranayake but has given the credit to Manju, the fallen hero. (May be Manju still lives in hearts and minds of Mahavilachchiya folks.)

    Prof has done enough damages to this project and now scratches Wanni’s back. Read VK’s statement to Media at ICTA website. “ICTA congratulates Horizon Lanka Foundation and its founder Mr. N. Wanninayake for their continuous efforts in realizing the e-Sri Lanka vision.” Wanni, don’t get caught. It was this man who wanted your head in a platter and he still needs it. Give him a slap in the face if he comes to Mahavilachchiya.

    Visit http://www.horizonlanka.org/news/mesh/launch/wanni_speech.html

    Dear Chief Guest, Mr. Lalith Weerathunga, the Chairman of the Telecommunications Regulatory Commission and the Secretary to the President of Sri Lanka, all the guests from the President’s Office, officials from ICT Agency of Sri Lanka and Enterprise Technology Pvt Ltd. and Bartleet Group, personnel from police, army and home guards, friends, parents, villagers and the students.

    We welcome you all to this historical event. Horizon Lanka Foundation has been creating history for the past 8 years and we are about to launch our latest innovation, the implementation of mesh technology, to provide internet access to 28 households and 2 public schools in Mahavilachchiya.

    The non-availability of an internet connection for Horizon Lanka for 6 years could not hamper our growth. But when we were able to get internet from innovative LankaCom, the only Internet Service Provider who had the capability to provide us with Internet, we realized the amazing strength of it.

    Thanks to Internet and emails, students started getting A grades for English and the learning process became very exciting and enjoyable for the students and the teaching process became much easier for the teachers. Our website http://www.horizonlanka.org could be regularly updated and it made our website one of the most visited Sri Lankan sites in the world.

    Let me brief you how mesh became a reality. At an e Society exhibition held in Colombo in 2004, Mr Chanuka Wattegama and Mr. Kithsiri Gunasekara sparkled the first flame for mesh. Having heard that Mahavilachchiya is the village with the highest computer density of, they suggested that mesh technology could be easily implemented in Mahavilachchiya. Miss Rehana Wijesinghe’s smart writing saw to the funding aspect, and UNDP and other funding agencies extended their support. We also thank Manju Haththotuwa, then CEO of ICTA for playing an active role in this project.

    When everything was well set to start the project, the next hurdle was the problem of getting permission for the frequency. Licensing cost us a huge amount of money and if we have to renew the licenses for the next year too it will be a big blow to the project. We expect that the TRC would take actions to free this frequency enabling us to replicate mesh in other parts of Sri Lanka as well. I have learnt that this particular frequency is free in other countries.

    Next big challenge was to increase the existing bandwidth 128 kilo bytes per second to cater to the needs of 30 internet connections. Bandwidth was not sufficient at all as all the students started sharing the same connection as soon as public schools were closed. We thank Lanka Com for increasing bandwidth up to 256 kilo bytes per second on our request even before the agreements were signed. LankaCom promptly increased the bandwith to enable mesh to be proactive. We have to mention here that we would need at least 1 Mega bytes bandwidth for mesh network as mesh network is likely to expand up to around 100 PCs soon. In some of the students’ houses there are up to five PCs and they are already working on small networks inside their houses to enable Internet access to multiple users in the families. We also provided internet to two public schools and we will ensure both the schools expand their computer projects within the next few months. We have already been able to provide a brand new PCs and peripherals to Saliyamala Public School and we are trying to do the same with Thakshila Public School. We want to ensure that these two schools have computer labs each comprising of 25 PCs . Both the schools cater to about a 1000 students.

    We also provided few PCs to Mahavilachchiya police station and the nearby police post. Hundreds of police officers and home guards learn computers fast and there is already a big demand for their PCs to be connected to mesh. So, we hope that ICT Agency will increase our bandwidth up to 1 Mega bytes to cater to this growing demand as they have always done in the past.

    Our aim is to produce over a 1000 IT skilled youth from Mahavilachchiya within next three years so that we could use their technical know-how in the Business Process Outsourcing project we are going to start shortly. Hope the donors and well-wishers will help us by providing us PCs for this ambitious plan. Even used PCs are welcome.

    In all our projects we always go the extra mile. We are doing a live webcast of this inauguration on an online radio station called Ahamu Online Radio. You can listen to live updates from Mahavilachchiya on http://www.ahamu.com. Two of our students, Ruvini Senevirathna and Ruwan Laksiri are doing the live program, and they hope to work with Ahamu Radio frequently from their homes by updating news from Mahavilachchiya in future too.

    We partnered with ICT Agency of Sri Lanka to make Mahavilachchiya an e Village in 2005. We are almost there now with all the innovations coming up. Our next move is to start a BPO project here for the IT skilled youth to work. We are being backed by FARO and ICTA in this venture. But we still have a few barriers to overcome for this.

    First challenge is road conditions in Mahavilachchiya. Road to Mahavilachchiya up to Oyamaduwa is excellent but from there onwards it is in a dilapidated condition. We hope His Excellency the President will help the village by repairing the road to Mahavilachchiya via Anuradhapura and Nochchiyagama. Not to mention the roads inside the village too. Our to-be-investors’ main worry was the road conditions here. We get visitors from both Colombo and overseas every week and they find it difficult to travel due to bad road conditions.

    Next problem is frequently fluctuating electricity in Mahavilachchiya. We had a problem even this morning and were in a big trouble. Buying a generator would not be an answer as our operations are done at 30 places through mesh now. We need the government attention on this issue as well.

    We also have the absence of a mobile phone network within the village but Dialog Telekom is said to be working on covering Mahavilachchiya soon on our request.

    We have done what is humanly possible and even impossible for the future of Mahavilachchiya. Now it is the time for the government to play a bigger role in developing infrastructure in and around Mahavilachchiya. If the government helps us doing it, hope we can make Mahavilachchiya another Andra Pradesh or Bangalore using ICT. We also seek the help of the private sector for this.

    Thank you,

  27. Radio Program in Mahavilachchiya

    It is with deepest sympathies we have to let you know this fact. A radio program (SLBC) was scheduled to interview Wanni and the kids from Mahavilachchiya live about the mesh and e-village project there. Suddenly they had been told that VK was going to be the main actor and now what we hear on radio is that VK dominating the program as if he was the (Grand) Father of Mahavilahchiya!!!! Kids get very smaller slots to talk. We don’t hear Wanni at all. What happened. Did dino cut Wanni off or did Wanni quit the program?

    We hear that the same thing has happened to a TV program done about Mahavilachchiya. Dino has been smart enough to get hold of the master copies of the video and since he is never mentioned in any part of the program, he has stopped telecasting the program. Visit http://www.horizonlanka.org/news/rupavahini/index.htm What happened to this TV program? Can Rupavahini explain this?

  28. I wonder whether VK Samare was wearing any clothes when he talked about the Mahavilachciya programme on radio.