The 26th of April was an important day for Sri Lanka. Quite simply, it marked 20 years since the Sri Lankan general public had commercially available Internet services. Unfortunately, that’s not a very well-known fact.
Nalaka Gunawardene, a journalist, broadcaster and development communicator who, together with Chanuka Wattegama, chronicled the rise of Sri Lanka’s Internet, shared a paper titled “Internet in Sri Lanka: The First Five Years”. In the 33-page document (which was written in the 2000’s), Nalaka traces the history of Sri Lankan internet, exploring the backstory of LEARN (Lanka Experimental Academic and Research Network) and the initial efforts that made everything possible.
Download link: Internet in Sri Lanka: The First Five Years.
The paper was first shared online in 2013 for archival purposes, as it had been out of print for some time by them. It’s perhaps the most accurate (and perhaps the only) public historical record we have of these times. Keep in mind that the document charts a pre-millennium age. It’s an excellent overview and starting point – if you want to hear about the LAcNet, or need an overview on how taxes affected the communications of time, it’s a good place to start.