Colombo Archives — Page 2 of 6


Ambuluwawa, about 1,100 m above sea level, is probably the highest point in the vicinity of Gampola. Not surprisingly, all telecom operators exploit the geography. Transmission stations/towers encircle the summit. (See above) That is what one calls infrastructure. Just 10 km away, Sirimalwatte Ananda thero, a young and energetic Buddhist monk, runs a Nenasala, a telecenter established under the World Bank funded e-Sri Lanka program.
Is broadband quality a subject of interest only to urban top-of-the ladder users? Not necessarily. With the latest developments in telecom services broadband access is increasingly becoming a reality to rural populations as well, even in developing countries. The penetration levels might not be the same but should that mean quality should be compromised for rural users? Broadband quality is critical for telecenters where a link is usually shared.
Here are the summarised results from the telecenter operator survey done by LIRNEasia at the weCan workshop in October 2008. Sample was not representative, but large enough to get a general idea about the telecenter operations in Sri Lanka. Out of a total of 147 operators surveyed, the bulk, 101 were from Nenasalas, the 500 odd telecenter network created under the World Bank funded e-Sri Lanka programme. 10 were from Sarvodaya multi-purpose telecenters and 6 from others (eg. public libraries) 30 have not specified the type of the telecenter.
The download speeds that customers get in Chennai, Colombo and Dhaka are not very different, if you carefully examine the results of the October 2009 results of broadband QOSe using the Ashokatissa methodology jointly developed by IIT Madras and LIRNEasia. What differs is the level of truth in advertising. In Sri Lanka, everybody is lying. In India, they are closer to the truth. The difference is regulation.

A world free from 9/11s and tsunamis?

Posted on September 12, 2008  /  1 Comments

Exactly seven years from yesterday (still today to some), early in the morning on September 11, 2001, nineteen hijackers took control of four commercial airliners en route to San Francisco and Los Angeles from Boston, Newark, and Washington, D.C. The hijackers flew two of the airliners, American Airlines Flight 11 and United Airlines Flight 175, into the North and South Towers of the World Trade Center. Another group of hijackers flew American Airlines Flight 77 into the Pentagon. A fourth flight, United Airlines Flight 93, whose ultimate target was either the United States Capitol or White House, crashed near Shanksville, Pennsylvania.
Asia Pacific telecom operators had a big party in Colombo this week. They were celebrating the 21 st anniversary of the global mobile standard, GSM. Despite a few puzzlingly sexist comments about the significance of the 21 st birthday to a “Young Girl” (as though it was not significant for a male) it was a good party. Anyway, the point is that it was not just fun and games. The conference that followed was a serious one.

Sri Lanka to have a Telecom Icon

Posted on August 29, 2008  /  2 Comments

Sri Lanka will build a state-sponsored 250 metre tall common broadcast tower for television, radio and telecom firms, information minister Anura Yapa said. “The building of towers in a haphazard manner cannot be allowed,” Minister Yapa said. “The tower will be a national icon, like those in China, Kuala Lampur (image) and Tehran.” Sri Lanka’s telecom regulator Priyantha Kariapperuma said the tower will be located in Peliyagoda in the greater Colombo area and will have a public observation gallery and a restaurant. The tower will be built at state cost, but a private investor may be attracted later, he said.
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.
The colloquium notes Lara Alawattegama (LA): Monopoly means ‘a market with a single supplier’ Why a monopoly happens: 1. No close substitutes 2. Legal barriers to entry 3. Resource barriers 4. Unfair competition -predatory pricing Rohan Samarajiva (RS) : Lack of competition leads to monopolies.
Sri Lanka using customs authorities to censor academics: report – LANKA BUSINESS ONLINE Another book by Rohan Samarajiva, from LirneAsia, a Colombo-based regional policy think tank, had been detained by customs from December. Samarajiva’s book, “ICT infrastructure in emerging Asia, Policy and Regulatory roadblocks” released by the Indian unit of academic publishing house, Sage, was launched in India in December. Sri Lanka;s customs chief Sarath Jayathilake was quoted in the report as saying that the detention was not brought to his attention and he was not aware why the books were seized. “We usually detain these books if it’s a matter of security and we refer them to Defence (Ministry) or the Government Information Department,” Jayathilake was quoted as saying. The LirneAsia publication had a chapter on telecommunications usage in the Jaffna peninsular.
Starting a business in Sri Lanka is not the easiest task in the world but how far that impedes Sri Lanka’s entry to global knowledge economy? This is one of the key questions posed by the World Bank publication The report identifies the business environment; information infrastructure; an innovation system; and human resources as four pillars of the knowledge economy. Challenges faced by Sri Lanka in becoming a knowledge economy are examined and the report proposes possible ways that Sri Lanka could move forward to build its knowledge economy under the country’s development strategy as outlined in the Mahinda Chinthana. ‘Building Sri Lanka’s Knowledge Economy’ to be launched Tuesday March 25, 2008 at 4th Floor, DFCC Bank Auditorium 73/5, Galle Road Colombo 3. LIRNEasia is happy to be a partner in publicizing this report perhaps for the first time seriously SWOTs Sri Lanka against similar countries and points out what it can learn from others.
Sir Arthur C. Clarke, resident of Sri Lanka, citizen of the United Kingdom, and man of the universe, passed away on the morning of the 19th of March. His was a life well lived. He will be remembered. Sir Arthur imagined what the world could be.

LIRNEasia loses a friend

Posted on March 19, 2008  /  7 Comments

It is with deep regret that LIRNEasia reports the demise of Sir Arthur C. Clarke. Some of us at LIRNEasia had the opportunity of closely working with him in our professional lives. In November 2005, LIRNEasia had its last official encounter with him when few representatives from WorldSpace (our partner in the Last-Mile Hazinfo project) including Dr. Rangarajan met him in Colombo.
Quality of Service Experience (QoSE) of broadband was a topic that has been discussed in LIRNEasia blog for sometime and we find many readers share the view of the Australian cartoonist who portrayed information superhighway to a modern car with cart wheels – the infrastructure. LIRNEasia’s on-going QoSE benchmarking project aims to find the answer to the question, based on evidence not perceptions, whether the users actually get what has been advertised by the operators. A seminar presenting preliminary results of Broadband QoSE measures, with the participation of Professor Timothy Gonsalves of IIT Madras (who headed the team that developed the methodology) will be held in Colombo on the 18th of March. This is an open event, but prior registration is recommended. (Tel: 011 267 1160, 077 763 6821; e-mail: kapugama[at]lirne[dot]net) Here are more information about the event and broadband quality test plan for those who are interested.
by Harsha de Silva & Ayesha Zainudeen In Does inequality matter? Exploring the links between poverty and inequality (p. 135-167), Edited by Prashan Thalayasingam & Kannan Arunasalam. Published by CEPA, Colombo, 2007 Pre-publication version available for download. The paper was presented at the Centre for Poverty Analysis Annual Symposium on Poverty Research in Sri Lanka (6-7 December 2007, Colombo) Introduction: Much has been said of the benefits of access to telecommunication especially at the ‘Bottom of the Pyramid’.
Based on Shiller’s writings on the use of insurance as a device to reduce losses from tsunami type events, LIRNEasia has been looking at insurance as a part of the solution. However, the story below suggests that insurance is on the retreat in Shiller’s backyard, in the face of predictions of more violent storms. In contrast, the following posters, promising “on-the-spot” insurance payments for earthquakes and tsunamis came up on the streets of Colombo, shortly after the September 12th, 2007 false warning: Home Insurers Canceling in East Over Storm Fears – New York Times It is 1,200 miles from the coastline where Hurricane Katrina touched land two years ago to the neat colonial-style home here where James Gray, a retired public relations consultant, and his wife, Ann, live. But this summer, Katrina reached them, too, in the form of a cancellation letter from their home-insurance company. The letter said that “hurricane events over the past two years” had forced the company to limit its exposure to further losses; and that because the Grays’ home on Long Island was near the Atlantic Ocean — it is 12 miles from the coast and has been touched by rampaging waters only once, when […]