Morning after: Thinking through Sri Lanka President’s free WiFi promise

Posted on February 28, 2015  /  2 Comments

Haven’t had time to analyze this election promise, so was very happy to see a CPRsouth alumnus take an excellent run at it.

Usually, these free Wi-Fi services have lower speeds compared to the average home connection, and often come with a data or a time cap. Perth, for example, offers free public Wi-Fi in a certain area, with a limit of 50MB per connection. Do your stuff, and then get out of the way; let the next user in.

Effective, intelligent limiting is one solution. Lots of bandwidth is the other. New York, for example has a plan called LinkNYC, where they’re replacing telephone boxes with giant consoles that provide free Wi-Fi, 24/7, “upto gigabit speeds”). It’s set to go by late 2015. LinkNYC involves, according to reports, some $200 million spend on fiber. And even so, each giant console has limitation: a radius of a 150 feet, a maximum of 256 devices connected to it, and a total speed of 1 Gbps, with design updates every four years.

The third option is to just have very few users connected to Wi-Fi. Which is what Exporail does; have a small, manageable number of users connected to an Access Point. Everybody’s happy.

Somehow, I doubt we have $200 million to throw around on Wi-Fi at train stations, so it comes down to having technically hamstrung connections. Or, this being Sri Lanka, and it being SLT, option no 3: Majestic City Wi-Fi, which means everybody can connect to it, but nobody can use it.

Full story from Readme.


  1. Grace Mirandilla-Santos

    Good insights. Perhaps LKA and PH can learn from each other, as both are embarking on a free public wifi project. PH government recently allocated about USD 32 million to deploy the first wave of WiFi hotspots in unserved and underserved municipalities nationwide. Many of the issues mentioned in the article are critical points that need to be addressed before implementing the project.

  2. Free WiFi had a big run around 2005. Here is some discussion from that period: