Sri Lanka Telecom (SLT), the island's leading fixed line operator, has commissioned a fibre optic network in the North under the 5 billion-rupee i-Sri Lanka project providing high speed links with the rest of the country and abroad.
This mega Information Communication Technology project was launched alongside the opening of the SLT Regional Telecommunication Office and Maintenance Centre in Jaffna on Monday. The SLT will spend Rs 625 million rupees for ultra high speed Broadband Network programme in the North which is around 8 % of the total cost of i-Sri Lanka, SLT CEO Greg Young said in an interview with Business Times.
He revealed that the laying of Fiber optic cables on the A9 highway has been completed and work on the A32 highway will begin shortly. It will serve as a protection ring ensuring sustainable connectivity, in the event of any breakdowns on the A9 highway fiber optic line. Equipment for the first phase of the project will arrive in the island within a week and the installation will begin in October, he said. The SLT telephone exchange in Jaffna which was not in use for 18 long years has now been repaired and modernised, he revealed. This project is a major boost to the Northern region and will revolutionize the lifestyles of the people, raising living standards of the country to higher levels.
Mr Young said the SLT has extended the fibre optic cable project to connect Mannar, Vavuniya, Trincomalee and Jaffna along the A9 main road. This was commissioned late last year. In addition to this, new telephone exchanges have been established at Mankulam and Mullaitivu, in order to enhance the basic communication facilities and provide broadband coverage for customers in the north.
Sri Lanka’s fixed and wireless broadband penetration of 1% and 2.4% is well below the developing countries’ average and only a fraction of the world average. The SLT aims at increasing it through the implementation of the project. The integration of SLT’s Next Generation Network (NGN), fibre backbone and access network, optimization of the existing extensive copper network and the aggressive plan for consistent, high speed, uninterrupted broadband speeds under the i-Sri Lanka project, combine seamlessly to deliver a world class and ‘Future Ready’ capability, he said.
The i-Sri Lanka network modernisation project will help customers to enjoy consistent, uninterrupted high speed Internet services delivered on the network, up to high speeds up to 20 Mega Bytes Per Second (Mbps) and more within 18 months. “In this project, which forms a significant part of our future investment program and which we have titled 90-20-13, we aim to allow more than 90% of our fixed line customers to access at least 20Mbps data speed by the end of 2013,” he said. This programme is fully integrated with the NGN modernization and broadband access targets for 2011 and forms a significant part of the increased capital expenditure in 2011 and following years.
The i-Sri Lanka project launched at the end of 2010 will enhance and upgrade the existing fixed network lines that connect SLT’s customers. It will expand the fibre network closer to the customer through fibre to the node, thereby reducing the length of the copper connections with a resultant significant increase in reliability, quality and broadband data speeds. Reducing the copper cable lengths not only improves reliability, but will reduce maintenance and replacement costs.
Addressing the launch ceremony in Jaffna, Minister of Information Technology, Ranjith Siyambalapitiya noted that "the project will facilitate setting up of Information Technology centres in all villages in the North and will thus enable the entire country to have instant transactions and connectivity with the local and international community.”
By facilitating broadband penetration into all parts of the country, “we hope to remove all barriers within the country, bridge the digital divide and bring information and entertainment services through technology access to all people in all parts of Sri Lanka,” he said.