Thalakumbura is 17 km off Hali-Ela, in Badulla District, Uva province – one of the least connected in Sri Lanka. Strictly speaking, the village, just 10 km from the famous ‘Bogoda Bridge’, is connected – not to one but three mobile networks. However, the signal strength is not adequate to carry out a continuous conversation except when at the second floor of the three storey temple building. (See photo) So the villagers’ frequent visits to temple may not be with strictly spiritual objectives.
Despite this, more than 50% houses now have at least one mobile, confirms the chief incumbent priest. Not all see visiting temple appropriate, especially at night and have opted for the next best option: use SMS. They use roman characters to write in local language. So the use of SMS has become exceptionally high, a phenomenon we have not significantly witnessed among the bottom of the pyramid in Sri Lanka.
Market share, I am told, now divided almost equally between three operators – Dialog GSM, Mobitel and Tigo. Needless to say the first to erect a tower in the vicinity will catch at least 7,000 prospective users in this and surrounding villages. Let is watch who will be the early bird.