Ruined Broadband at Polonnaruva: Should we blame Mobitel, Dialog or King Parakramabahu?

Posted on August 12, 2008  /  7 Comments

When he built Parakrama Samudraya a millennium ago, King Parakramabahu the great did not have to depend on the Internet. How lucky! Had it been so, he would have achieved few great feats. The pitiable Broadband services at Polonnaruva looked as if we have not made any advances since the days of the Great King.

Both SLT and Dialog boast about their island wide networks. These backbones, they say, are capable of delivering ‘kiri’ to rural communities too. ICTA does not let a day go without mentioning taking ICTs to villages. The reality, as we have experienced for the last three days, is different.

Apparently 3G services are unavailable in Polonnaruva.  All Mobitel could deliver was GPRS at a speed less than 5 kbps. (top) Good that they provide the speedometer on PC. Visiting any site, including is impossible at that rate. (1/200 of the promised speed)

The competition was not too different (does that surprise anyone?).  Apart from delivering GPRS at similar speeds, Dialog was not capable even of delivering more than 80 kbps thorough its hotel wi-fi network – that too within selected hours with a weak connection breaking every 30 minutes or so.  There were long periods the network was simply down. Minimum prepaid charge is Rs. 250 + taxes, irrespective of the usage (less than 30 minutes in our case) and user satisfaction – er, dissatisfaction.

Perhaps it is the fault of King Parakramabahu. Taking into account the broadband needs of his descendents he could have moved the kingdom to a location near Colombo – where at least the last-mile conditions are not this pathetic.


  1. what about wimax? the area is covered by dialog wimax

  2. Sorry, I had no way of checking the WiMax quality. Will be grateful if a reader checks and provides that information.
    (Pl try and the server in KL for uniformity)

    The point I want to make is Broadband quality drops in Pollonnaruva for different reasons. (compared to Colombo) In Colombo we hardly find last mile issues. When we did our broadband testing, availability was 100%. (It was same in Chennai) On the other hand, at Polonnaruwa it seems the biggest problem is the last mile.

    Does this have to do with the relatively low demand?

  3. You said “Apparently 3G services are unavailable in Polonnaruva. All Mobitel could deliver was GPRS at a speed less than 5 kbps”. If that is the case why are you captioning your first exhibit as “Mobitel HSPA”? Surely GPRS is 2G where as HSPA is 3G. For a casual reader who will just glance at the heading and the exhibits this will send a wrong message on the capabilities of HSPA in general and the capabilities of Mobitel HSPA in particular. I hope that this misrepresentation is not intentional!

  4. Apologies for the overlook. It has to be GPRS. Yes, it was unintentional. Will correct as soon as I find time.

    I am not sure whether Mobitel promises 3G in Polonnaruwa or not.

  5. Hi Mobitel DOES have 3G coverage there.

    Check the map on It shows Pollonnaruwa is covered. You sure you aint getting?

  6. All what I got was above. (I checked for at least 5 times for three days)

    I do not know whether it was HSPA or GPRS. Normally I see a blue light in my modem. At Polonnaruruwa I saw a green light. So I assumed a difference. (Of couse, 5 kbps cannot be HSPA)