On January 16, 2008 a bus bomb went off killing 25 and injuring more than 60, in a remote area of Moneragala, arguably the least connected district in the island. Within less than two hours, the international news channels were up with clips. Nuwan Sameera (inset) FTPed them from his Nenasala telecenter in Bibile town – about one hour journey away.
Nuwan operates just within 200 m from a telecom tower (see photo) but bureaucracy is bureaucracy. Spending World Bank money generously, ICTA, the implementation agency of Nenasala telecenter network under the e-Sri Lanka program, first provided a VSAT link from a different operator. (Perhaps the tower came later and fortunately, and Nuwan does not have to foot the bill, about US$ 750 per month, in the first year) Then came the 128 kbps link that every centre gets. It costs about USD 100 per month.
FTPing is one of Nuwan’s main business lines. Narrowband 128 kbps would not have FTPed the video clips of the bus bomb so fast. Nuwan was lucky to have a telecom tower in his vicinity. Now another 1 Mbps links him to the world. That is the best he can wish for. With excellent Line of Sight (see photo) his quality of service issues are addressed. When tested he got 75%. (Not by LIRNEasia’s AT-Tester, which he is keen to use; please wait for the test results soon)
The glitch: In Bibile, 128 kbps costs TWICE MORE than 1 Mbps. You guessed it! From the same operator! 1 Mpbs is from open market. 128 kbps is ‘resold’ thru ICTA that buys in bulk.
Should we be surprised in a country where government sells Petrol at Rs. 22 more than the private sector?